MESA, Ariz. -- A Phoenix woman accused of lying about having breast cancer and bilking thousands of dollars from her friends, family and co-workers pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Jami Toler, 27, said she needed the money for medical expenses. Investigators said she used the cash for breast implants.
Toler showed little emotion as she spoke to a judge during her initial appearance in court earlier this month. She spent the night in the Maricopa County jail. She's facing felony fraud and theft charges.
“They were just well-intentioned people standing by in support of an individual who needed it,” said Carmen Klemis, one of Toler's former co-workers.
Toler was asking for donations on her GiveForward website to cover the cost of a double mastectomy. According to the site, Toler has breast cancer and no insurance.
Toler opened a Chase Bank account, raising $8,000.
Klemis called police, suspecting Toler was fundraising fraudulently.
“It's a very unfortunate situation,” Klemis said.
Police said, in November, Toler used most of the donations for breast implants -- money that was intended for cancer treatment.
“Her medical records indicated that there was no breast cancer or anything like that, no issues whatsoever,” said Sgt. Anthony Landato with the Mesa Police Department.
Police said Toler’s story started to unravel when she turned down an offer from a doctor to treat her breast cancer for free.
Officers showed up at her job in Phoenix earlier this month and arrested her.
Toler has been ordered to stay in Maricopa County and wear an ankle monitor.
She was also ordered to stay away from the 17 alleged victims. Those people suspect Toler may have lied to other people about having breast cancer.