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They told a boy he had cancer, then lied to the public for donations, police say

Ginny Irovando Long,left, and her husband, Robert Edward Long, right, started fundraisers for a boy's bogus cancer diagnosis
Ginny Irovando Long,left, and her husband, Robert Edward Long, right, started fundraisers for a boy's bogus cancer diagnosis
Published Feb. 6, 2018

A Fort Walton Beach couple told their community a child had brain cancer to gather donations for "medical expenses."

But the 13-year-old boy didn't have cancer at all, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said.

"The 13 year old has spent the last eight months believing he is going to die from brain cancer, but the OCSO's investigation revealed his medical records prove no brain tumors exist," the sheriff's office said.

Ginny Irovando Long, 34, and her husband, Robert Edward Long, 47, set up a fundraiser for the boy last year at Meig's Middle School in Shalimar, selling T-shirts, police said. They also spread the false cancer diagnosis on Facebook.

"In a post December 28th, investigators say Irovando claimed it was a miracle the boy had lived three days past Christmas and the only person that knows when he is supposed to go is God," the sheriff's office said.

When investigators talked to the boy, whose name and relationship to the couple wasn't revealed, he said Ginny Long told him that he was to die in May 2017. Ginny Long also set up a GoFundMe for the child, police said.

WEAR TV reported that the GoFundMe page gathered nearly $1,000 before it was shut down by the company. The couple also sold nine T-shirts to make about $140.

The investigation into the couple began last November when a school resource officer told law enforcement that they believed the couple was lying about the child's cancer diagnosis for money.

When law enforcement confronted the couple, Ginny Long said that she got a call from a doctor at the Houston Children's Hospital in Texas that said the boy had seven brain tumors, according to the arrest report.

She also told investigators that she was told that the boy would become a "vegetable" if he underwent surgery, so she opted out of it.

Time and time again, investigators asked her to provide medical paperwork for proof of the boy's illness — but no such records existed at all, arrest records say.

The boy was and his sibling were taken in by the Department of Children and Families and are in foster care, WEAR reported.

Ginny Long and Robert Long face charges of one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud.

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