Woman accused of faking cancer to make money

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COHOES, N.Y. --A former teacher accused of faking cancer to collect health benefits was indicted on charges that she tried to steal more than $110,000 from the state Teachers' Retirement System.

If convicted, Candice Lambert, 41, would face seven to 20 years in prison for grand larceny, attempted grand larceny and scheming to defraud.

Lambert turned herself in to Cohoes police in April after school officials in New Hampshire, where she was then working, investigated her and told the public she did not have cancer.

Lambert, a special education teacher, left her job with the Cohoes City School District, just outside Albany, in 2002 after claiming she was permanently disabled.

She then moved to her New Hampshire hometown and took another teaching job. A newspaper there reported she covered her head with a scarf and said chemotherapy for kidney cancer made her hair fall out.

The indictment accuses Lambert of forging doctors' notes and taking more than $3,000 of medical benefits, plus $1,000 worth of sick time donated by fellow teachers, through July 2005.

Albany County prosecutor Chris Baynes said Lambert forged other doctors' notes to the retirement system to cash in on a benefit that offers terminal patients three times their annual salary before they die. The retirement system rejected the documents, Baynes said, and she never received the money, which would have totaled $111,000.

Baynes, who handled the indictment, said Lambert had a lumpectomy to remove breast cancer in 1996 but now appeared to be cancer-free.

Lambert's Albany attorney, Terence Kindlon, did not comment on the indictment Friday.

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Information from: Times Union, http://www.timesunion.com

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