WACO (January 13, 2010)—Trista Joy Lathern, 24, who claimed she was undergoing chemotherapy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but took thousands of dollars raised at a benefit in August at a Waco-area club and spent it on breast augmentation surgery, was indicted Wednesday on a charge of theft of $1,500 or more, but less than $20,000.
Lathern, who lives in the Robinson area, didn’t have cancer, but went so far as to shave her head in order to look as if she did, according to the affidavit submitted for the arrest warrant.
The Aug. 16 benefit at Hog Creek Ice House outside of Waco with performances by four bands, a raffle, a silent auction and a bake sale, raised about $10,000 for Lathern, the affidavit said.
Investigators have identified at least two-dozen individuals and businesses that donated money or merchandise for the benefit and estimate that hundreds of people probably attended, including two sheriff’s deputies, one of whom won a pickup truck bed liner in a raffle.
They asked residents who donated to or attended the benefit to call the sheriff’s office.
Her bond was set at $7,500.
The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office began investigating after an attorney who represents a local plastic surgeon told a detective that Lathern had consulted with the doctor about breast augmentation, but never mentioned her breast cancer, according to the affidavit.
The surgeon told the attorney he was concerned that the $3,509 in cash she had given him as a down payment was “stolen money,” according to the affidavit.
Medical records showed that an ultrasound performed in February at Scott & White Hospital had detected a small mass in her left breast, but the mass was removed and was found to be benign, the affidavit said.
Lathern later confirmed to the investigator that the mass was benign and said “she never had breast cancer nor was she receiving any chemotherapy,” the affidavit said.
“Trista said she and her husband had been (having) marital problems and she thought by telling him she had cancer would bring them closer together,” the affidavit said.
“Trista confesses that she gave $3,500 to a local plastic surgeon for an augmentation and later had a bilateral breast augmentation performed in Austin, Texas, costing approximately $6,800,” the affidavit said.
“Trista said after the fundraiser she tried to bring attention to herself by having a breast augmentation performed hoping it would help mend her marriage.”
Lathern’s husband told investigators he didn’t know she didn’t have cancer until the day she spoke with the detective, the affidavit said.