Ohio cancer scheme suspect wants to plead insanity

NEWARK, Ohio (AP) — A central Ohio woman accused of faking a cancer diagnosis for her 4-year-old son is pursuing an insanity plea on a child endangerment charge.

Authorities allege Emily Creno, 31, of Utica, shaved her son’s head in a scheme that bilked people out of donations and convinced the boy and others that he was dying.

Creno’s attorney wants a competency evaluation for her and has filed a motion seeking to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. He argues in court records that Creno has a history of mental illness and didn’t know her actions were criminal because of an unspecified “severe mental disease.”

A judge must decide whether to allow the insanity plea.

A prosecutor told The Columbus Dispatch he thinks Creno tried to cover up lies with some of her actions.

“I would be shocked if an examiner came to any other conclusion,” Licking County prosecutor Ken Oswalt said.

Authorities say the hoax began late last year when Creno and others she told about the boy’s cancer diagnosis created websites in support of him.

Creno’s son was taken to a hospital for symptoms such as seizures and underwent at least 20 blood tests, more than 150 hours of inpatient monitoring and other testing that found no problems, according to the court records.

Creno was arrested earlier this month and has remained in jail. Her next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31.

Police investigated claims that 20 or more people said they donated money or goods to the family, The Advocate in Newark reported. The total value isn’t clear.

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