Iowa woman accused of lying about having cancer

NEVADA – A northern Iowa woman lied to her community about having cancer and collected thousands of dollars for fake medical treatment, according to authorities who announced charges against her Thursday.

The Story County Sheriff’s Office said Heidi Denio, 37, of Iowa Falls, told people for at least a year that she was suffering from terminal cancer. She later lied to investigators by forging a doctor’s signature to back up her diagnosis, according to authorities.

“I’ve been sheriff for 21 years, and this is the first case I remember that reaches this level of deception,” said Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald.

An anonymous tip led authorities to investigate Denio. The tip pointed to a March 2012 benefit that raised more than $50,000 for Denio’s medical bills and living expenses.

“We acted on it and began the investigation,” Fitzgerald said.

Authorities were having difficulty finding any medical documents that confirmed Denio’s diagnosis, Fitzgerald said. When investigators approached her about it, Denio’s lawyer gave them a doctor’s letter with a signature that said Denio had cancer.

Authorities later contacted the doctor, who told them the letter was fake and the signature was forged.

Denio was charged Thursday with first-degree theft, ongoing criminal conduct and forgery. Iowa Falls Police arrested her without incident on a warrant from Story County, and she was sent to the Hardin County jail.

Fitzgerald said he doesn’t anticipate additional arrests in the case.