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Woman accused of bilking donors with fake cancer diagnosis sentenced

by DERRICK PERKINS
Hagadone News Network | January 18, 2023 1:00 AM

Victims of Amy Glanville’s alleged yearslong scam using a fake cancer diagnosis to raise tens of thousands of dollars in donations took turns Friday describing the scheme as one that destroyed relationships, shook their faith and fractured a local church.

“I believe in spiritual redemption, I believe with all my heart you can be restored,” Mary Woodward said from the witness stand in Flathead County District Court. “But it will take a [change of heart]. It will take a surrendering of life. Because it’s only something God can do from the inside out.”

Judge Heidi Ulbricht sentenced Glanville, 47, to a suspended, four-year sentence with the state Department of Corrections following witness testimony on Jan. 13, giving her credit for one day of time served. Glanville had pleaded guilty to a single felony count of theft in August by way of an Alford plea after reaching a deal with prosecutors.

Under an Alford plea, Glanville maintains her innocence while acknowledging that a jury likely would find her guilty.

Court documents put the start of Glanville’s alleged scheme in about 2016, saying it ran until 2020, when suspicious leaders of Easthaven Baptist Church confronted her. In that time, she benefited from an online fundraiser as well as efforts to raise donations led by the Baptist church and other charitable organizations in the valley, court documents said. To buttress her story, Glanville allegedly employed multiple phones to pose as medical providers and had supporters take her to phony medical appointments.

Prosecutors put the total amount raised for Glanville at about $60,000, but victims told the court that they gave much more.

“When you look at the charge and read the amount, I ask that you see instead people,” wrote Allison Rennie in a statement read aloud in court.

Glanville, Rennie wrote, also stole time, trust, faith and hope from her victims. She siphoned resources away from cancer patients in the region.

“I will never fully get my trust in people back,” Rennie wrote.

Along with the financial support, victims recounted giving her rides, caring for her children, and lending emotional and spiritual support.

“Amy, they prayed for you every night for five years so you would get better,” said Luke Fitzwater of his children.

Fitzwater testified via Zoom from Texas. The uncovering of Glanville’s alleged scheme and subsequent fallout forced the family to leave Kalispell, he said.

It also left a spiritual hole among his fellow congregants, Fitzwater said, and rocked his faith. He has begun attending church services again, he said, but is unable to worship.

“A large, gaping hole remained for adults and children alike,” he said, worrying aloud that seeds of doubt had taken root.

Woodward, too, touched on the fallout in her testimony. In the aftermath, those seen as refusing to grant Glanville sufficient grace became ostracized in their church community, she said. Confrontation and acrimony followed, Woodward recalled.

“You said to me, ‘I will do anything that’s asked in order to do what is right,’” Woodward recalled. “I told you that day I forgave you and I meant it. But over these last 26 months, I have battled cynicism, I have battled heartache …”

GLANVILLE STARED straight ahead throughout Friday’s hearing, never looking back from the defendant’s table at the mostly filled pews behind her, the ringlets of her black hair forming a veil around her face. Clad in a black and white winter coat adorned in snowflakes, she occasionally rocked back and forth as witnesses offered testimony.

“I understand and acknowledge what everyone has shared,” she said in a creaky voice when given the chance to address the court. “I am very sorry about this whole situation.”

She said she hoped her one-time supporters could “move on and find joy in their lives again,” describing the period when the alleged fraud occurred as a dark time for her.

That was a point her attorney, Lane Bennet, emphasized. He noted that she was receiving “heavy” psychiatric care, though neither he nor any of the defense witnesses specified a diagnosis in open court.

Debbie Ray, a witness for the defense and mother of one of the victims listed in court documents, alluded to severe trauma Glanville suffered in the past.

“She is a precious person who loves Jesus,” said Ray, who told the court she was thankful Glanville was not dying of cancer.

“It’s a mental illness that she has,” Ray said.

Bennet also read excerpts from a letter of support written by Daniel Lambert, who retired as a pastor at Easthaven Baptist Church last year. Lambert believed “something snapped in her that caused the extensive break in reality” for Glanville, according to the letter.

“We hope to respond to this inexplicable situation with grace and forgiveness,” he wrote.

As for a penalty, Bennet and Deputy County Attorney Andrew Clegg recommended Ulbricht hand down a deferred, three-year sentence that included mandatory mental health counseling and 75 hours of community service. For restitution, they suggested it be capped at $30,000.

Many of the victims had criticized the proposed sentence, calling for a stiffer punishment.

But Bennet told the court that Glanville’s parents were willing to front the proposed restitution amount. If the $30,000 cap were removed, they would withdraw the offer, he cautioned. Clegg echoed Bennet’s warning, telling the court he worried that the victims would receive nothing if restitution increased. He said that the state deemed Glanville disabled.

Clegg also outlined his rationale going into the plea deal, saying that Glanville’s offense “boils down to … a property crime.”

“It’s a first offense felony theft,” Clegg said, noting that Glanville was a nonviolent offender.

Acknowledging that victims disagreed with his position, Clegg said he appreciated their stance and their candor with him.

“There is nothing we can truly do to make up for what she did as a court of law,” he said.

After listening to the two attorneys, Ulbricht took a harder line on Glanville, including removing the cap on restitution.

“The court recognizes it’s a first offense, but the court believes and will sentence [Glanville] to four years with the Department of Corrections, suspended,” she said. “This needs to be on Amy Glanville’s permanent record and not dismissed in three years.”

That fell short of the requests by the victims. Several called for time behind bars, more community service or a court-mandated stint in a mental health facility.

Woodward had asked for a sign of repentance. Glanville, she said, seemed again playing the victim.

“I believe you are still attempting to deceive the public,” she said, pointing to Glanville’s Alford plea as an example of her trying to evade responsibility. “I don’t believe you have any intention of changing.”

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