By Calvin Palmer
An Ohio mother-of-six accused of stealing $800,000 from friends and family by claiming her husband had cancer was arrested yesterday.
Delaware County sheriff’s office said 29-year-old Melanie Chen, of Columbus, was arrested at a Salt Lake City hotel after being on the run for seven weeks.
Chen failed to turn up for an arraignment hearing in March. Federal and local officers tracked her to Florida and then Utah.
Delaware County prosecutors allege that Chen and her husband, Phylip Chen, 38, tricked their family and friends into believing that Phylip had cancer and then collected more than $800,000 for “medical bills”.
Relatives contacted authorities after they grew suspicious and the couple were unable to produce documentation of Phylip Chen’s medical treatment.
The Chens have been indicted on one count each of theft and receiving stolen property. The indictments list 14 donors who live in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and California.
Phylip Chen has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has called his wife a pathological liar.
The couple are Taiwanese, unemployed and have six children. If convicted they could face up to 10 years in prison.