For the last year or so, a young mother named Arielle Brooks has held fundraisers around the Lehigh Valley to help her sick daughter.
The problem, according to Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, is that the Brooks' daughter isn't actually sick, and that her "Save Baby Myah" fundraisers have apparently defrauded well-meaning people out of thousands of dollars.
"This child is not ill at all," Morganelli said at news conference Tuesday . "Lots of money has been raised under false pretenses. We want to protect the public from any further damage."
Myah was born in July of 2010. Soon after, Morganelli told reporters, Arielle Brooks -- who has used various aliases -- began raising money to help treat the baby for juvenile leukemia.
Brooks, 22, lived in Pen Argyl for a time, and has recently moved to Orefield, Morganelli said. She could not be reached for comment.
She held multiple fundraisers for the child, including two at Starters Riverport in Bethlehem. She also enlisted the help of a Slate Belt Church to get people to swab their cheeks to seek a donor match for the baby, Morganelli said. There was also a bone marrow registry drive held at the Family YMCA of Easton and Phillipsburg last year.
He said his office arrived at its conclusion through the use of a confidential informant and the work of county detectives and local police. He said investigators are working on getting Myah's medical records, and charges against her mother should be filed soon.
But despite the pending charges, Morganelli said Brooks was still planning a fundraiser for Tuesday evening, although he wasn't sure where it was.
It's not clear how much money the Baby Myah fundraisers took in, but Morganelli said it was more than ten thousand dollars. And it's unlikely Brooks would be able to make restitution, he added.
He said a case like this not only hurts the people who give money, it also harms legitimate charities.
"It undermines the confidence people have," he said. "They become suspicious of these causes."