It appeared that a Texas mother was willing to go to any hospital to get her 3-year-old son suffering from terminal cancer the best care. Now, she has been charged with falsifying both her son’s medical conditions and her own medical credentials.
Burgett allegedly turned her son’s disorder into an illness from which he was not suffering. She claimed that he was in pain, couldn’t eat, and needed more oxygen to breathe.Screenshot/WKRC
Assistant Prosecutor Anne Flanagan said at Burgett’s trial that the mother claimed her son was suffering from a brain tumor. She made him appear to be sick by shaving his head and eyebrows.
Flanagan said Burgett decided to cash in on her scheme by posting photos of the boy on the two GoFundMe pages she set up for her “sick son.”
Her GoFundMe sites pulled in approximately $40,000 in donations from caring people hoping to help a child fighting for his life.
Strangers weren’t the only ones who fell for Burgett’s brain tumor story — her husband and family were also convinced. The family allegedly thought that the boy had terminal cancer and that Burgett was a physician.
After receiving treatment in Austin and Houston, Burgett took her son to Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, where she tried to obtain what prosecutors say was “unnecessary” treatment. Even more, she convinced the doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that she was a physician. Dr. Robert Shapiro testified that Burgett:
“ … became a member the health care team.”
Burgett allegedly had her son treated with Oxycodone and methadone for his fake symptoms, according to 11Alive. Flanagan explained:
“This little…child was living a life of sedation — of tubes stuck in his face and nose, tubes in his intestines and stomach.”
The medical staff eventually caught on to the mother’s lies and reported Burgett to Hamilton County Job and Family Services.
Dr. Shapiro testified that once he was removed from his mother, the boy’s health bounced back within a week:
“He was running around the room from the bed to the couch. He needed no pain medication whatsoever. He ate like a champ.”
Burgett was indicted in May and charged with one count of felonious assault, two counts of endangering children, and one charge of telecommunications fraud, according to People.
Lisa Rabanus, Burgett’s assistant defense attorney, told People that the mother should not have been charged, as Burgett was just trying to help her son receive better treatment. Burgett’s attorney, M.J. Hugan echoed those sentiments, telling jurors in court:
“What she was trying to do, is get care – get the right care for her child.”
In regards to the claims that Burget used her son to get opioid prescriptions for her own use, Rabanus said that Burgett did not abuse substances and never forged a signature for prescriptions for her child to use. Instead, Rabanus pointed the finger at the physicians at the hospital in Ohio for all of the orders. She said:
“We’re kinda at a loss as to why she was charged in the first place. You can say this mom lied to us, this mom exaggerated things — but at the end of the day, you wrote the prescriptions, you ordered the tests.”
After the mother’s ploy was discovered in 2016, the then 3-year-old boy was removed from her and placed in foster care.
As of June 20, the boy has been living with his father, according to court documents.