An Arizona woman accused of faking her cancer diagnosis to receive a state-funded abortion was convicted of fraud and other charges on Monday.
Chalice Renee Zeitner was accused of falsifying medical records stating she had cancer. She was also accused of telling her obstetrician that her pregnancy had to be terminated to save her life. Her charges included fraudulent schemes, forgery and identity theft.
Zeitner’s attorney, Adam Schwartz, told the jury during opening statements that his client believed she had cancer and that she didn’t intend to defraud anyone.
Zeitner was found guilty on all 11 counts against her, according to officials with the Maricopa County Superior Court.
Zeitner had been enrolled in an Arizona health care program that covers the costs of abortion in certain circumstances, including when a mother’s life is in danger. Arizona paid about $6,000 worth of medical costs related to her late-term abortion in April 2010, according to state estimates.
Attorneys for Arizona say Zeitner told her obstetrician that she had stage IV cancer in her abdomen and lower spine. Zeitner also allegedly told the doctor that her baby had been exposed to radiation while she was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer in Boston.
Prosecutors say a doctor who was named in medical records as having treated Zeitner for cancer later said he never met her. They also say a specialist had found no trace of cancer in Zeitner’s baby.
However, Zeitner allegedly continued her scheme and later forged a letter from a doctor stating her pregnancy put her life in danger.
The abortion was performed 22 weeks into her pregnancy at a hospital in Phoenix.
Investigators say they discovered her scheme a year later, when a doctor who performed a C-Section during her following pregnancy found no trace of cancer.
Zeitner was arrested in May 2015 in Georgia, where she was living under a fake name. She is also accused of using an alias on social media to convince her boyfriend to establish a fundraiser for her cancer treatment.
The aggravation phase of her trial was scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.
On May 25, Zeitner will face another trial in which she is accused of defrauding a charity for military veterans and the leader of a separate charity in 2012.
Prosecutors say she encouraged one charity to purchase $7,700 worth of tickets for a gala. Zeitner said she promised to return the money along with a portion of the event’s proceeds. Investigators say she then canceled the event and spent the money on personal expenses.