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Elmwood teens collected aid for nonexistent patient

BOWLING GREEN — Two Elmwood High School students who collected money for a nonexistent cancer patient admitted their crime Tuesday in Wood County Juvenile Court.

The Bloomdale, Ohio, teens admitted to theft, a first-degree misdemeanor, before Judge David Woessner, who found them delinquent and scheduled their disposition hearing for Sept. 22.

The two brothers, now age 15 and 17, had been charged with felony theft and misdemeanor possession of drugs, but the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor and the possession charge dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Walter Meneses, an assistant Wood County prosecutor, said the teens were first-time offenders, which played into his office’s decision to offer the plea agreement.

In January and February, the teens went to homes in and around the Elmwood district in southern Wood County and in Findlay, saying they were taking up a collection for a cancer patient, sometimes identifying the patient as a teacher.

The Wood County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the scam after one suspicious donor called Elmwood Local Schools to ask about the donation request.

Judge Woessner told the teens they could be sentenced to up to 90 days in the juvenile detention center, placed on electronic monitoring, house arrest, or probation, or ordered to pay restitution or a fine or to perform community service.

Elmwood High School Principal Thomas Bentley said the 17-year-old boy is expected to return to school this fall, while the 15-year-old boy has enrolled in an online charter school. Both teens were suspended for a time after the incident occurred, he said.

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