In media interviews, Dina Perouty-Leone, 37, has said she perpetrated the cancer scam because her husband, Patrick Leone, also 37, had beaten her up and "made" her do it.
"It's a defense that the dog ate my homework," her husband's attorney, Stephen R. Tully, said after Friday's hearing. "Quite frankly, I don't think you can believe anything she says."
Tully told the judge that the woman has a history of lying about medical issues, most recently in a cancer scam in which she raised thousands of dollars from friends and others for treatments by claiming to be dying.
Although she now admits to having lied about being sick, her father, Neal Perouty, told Baltimore County District Judge G. Darrell Russell Jr. that his daughter wasn't at the hearing because she had gone "to the hospital," although he could not say which one.
The judge responded that without proof that she was in a hospital, he had no option but to dismiss the case. Patrick Leone, who had been ordered Jan. 21 to have no contact with his wife or their 17-year-old daughter and to move out of their home in Rosedale, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.
The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that the woman, a Dundalk High School graduate, had been indicted on theft and conspiracy counts in connection with her fundraising, ostensibly to pay for chemotherapy and other medical expenses. Perouty-Leone appeared before a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge last week and was freed on $25,000 bail.
On Thursday, Perouty-Leone left a phone message with The Sun's newsroom saying that the paper's reporting on the case was "hurting my children" and that it relied on accounts from "people who don't even know me."
"You're portraying me as this horrible person," she said.
Perouty-Leone, whose real estate license was revoked in 2007, was convicted in four previous cases in Carroll County. She took $11,500 from a Sykesville woman in a mortgage scheme, prosecutors said, and repeatedly wrote checks on empty or closed accounts, once for $5,500 and on another occasion for $297, to her daughter's school.
In the Sykesville case, a judge imposed a sentence of 10 years, suspending all but the 49 days Perouty-Leone had already spent in jail. But she could go back.
"She is on probation until May of 2012," said Jennifer Darby, a senior assistant state's attorney in Carroll County who prosecuted the cases there. "A conviction in the Baltimore County cancer case would certainly violate her probation. The max the judge can give is what is left of the 10-year sentence."
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