Ten Years’ Probation, 1 Year Jail for Loveland Woman Who Faked Illnesses
The Loveland woman accused of feigning several illnesses to gain charitable funds from others was sentenced Thursday to a year in the Larimer County Work Release program and 10 years’ probation.
The character and crimes of Kristin Eagle, 45, came to light as defense attorney Daniel Jasinski and Kristin’s mother, Sarah Eagle, and stepfather, John Eagle, argued that Kristin Eagle’s crimes stemmed from unnoticed mental illnesses that led her to siphon funds from the Fort Collins mountain bike community.
Seated on the other side of the courtroom, once-friends of Kristin argued that she had manipulated and betrayed their trust and charity by faking illnesses for years, all the while gathering money from fundraisers and a GoFundMe account.
Eighth Judicial District Judge Carroll Michelle Brinegar presided over the sentencing hearing. Eagle pleaded guilty in January to computer crimes, a Class 2 misdemeanor, and charitable fraud, a Class 5 felony, in a “largely stipulated” agreement between attorneys, according to Jasinski.
The plea deal allowed Eagle to shed charges alleging theft between $100,000 and $1 million, a Class 3 felony; two counts of ID theft, Class 4 felonies; unauthorized financial transaction, a Class 5 felony; and forgery of a government-issued document, a Class 5 felony.
Eagle must also pay restitution in the case. While Brinegar did not give an exact figure, prosecutor Shaun Reinhart implied restitution could be as much as $19,000.
Eagle was arrested six months ago, after the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office began investigating when Eagle’s acquaintances told them things weren’t adding up.
“Her actions were very intentional,” said Elizabeth Boese, who grappled with her emotions as she told the courts about her time with Eagle. “She (Eagle) kept her friends in separate worlds so we wouldn’t collide.”
She noted that she acquainted herself with Eagle and the Fort Collins mountain bike scene when “the community believed she had cancer,” and therefore she also didn’t doubt it. She said the two became friends quickly.
Boese said during their friendship, Eagle complained about her fight against cancer, a past rattlesnake bite, a heart attack and an extended history of health issues that led to hefty medical bills and other debts. She noted that Eagle’s cancer constantly came and went, and it was only in hindsight that she realized the oddity of Eagle’s behavior: Among several pushes for publicity and support from the mountain bike community, she avoided making connections with mountain bikers who were doctors, or anyone in the group with a familiarity with cancer.
Reinhart said Eagle emailed her friends under the names of made-up doctors “David Weber” and “Kelly Wright” about her cancer case. Under those aliases, she spoke of her own made up cancer case and what she needed toward treatment — including an expensive mountain bike, a Santa Cruz Tallboy.
He said Eagle had been taking funds from the community as early as 2014. He said Eagle had told several differing stories to friends, and to investigators once she was arrested.
“She has always blamed others,” Reinhart said.
Kenny Bearden, the executive director of Overland Mountain Bike Association, said he helped Eagle publicize her fake illnesses and gain support and funding from mountain bikers, believing her case real.
“She used specific individuals as leverage into larger communities,” Bearden told the courts, noting that a GoFundMe account he helped set up brought in more than $5,000 for Eagle.
He added that when some people had doubts about Eagle’s recurring cancer and other illnesses, it “created a divide” in the community, as many stood by her.
Three others who stated they belonged to the Fort Collins cycling community also arrived Thursday to tell the courts that they were once friends with Eagle and supported her both emotionally and financially before realizing they had been tricked.
Jasinski said Eagle’s professionally diagnosed mental illnesses — dissociative identity disorder, depression and PTSD — led her to commit the crimes. He said Eagle has no criminal history, and that he has encountered cases in which people with similar mental illnesses “were not themselves” when they committed crimes.
“She feels shame and embarrassment for what she has done,” Jasinski told the court.
John Eagle said that while mental illness is no excuse for his stepdaughter’s behavior, she suffered a mental breakdown in January 2018 that led her to confront and treat her mental illness.
“Our daughter was sick, just not the kind of sick we thought for years,” John said at the lectern. “We were so close, we didn’t see how wrong things were at the time.”
Eagle also spoke, saying she was “loathed and disgusted” with herself, and that she truly believed she had the fake illnesses prior to discovering her real mental illness.
“I kept wondering where years of my life went,” Eagle said, referring to her DID diagnosis, widely referred to as multiple-personality disorder. “I wish none of these people had met me during my dissociative years. ... The embarrassment and shame is overwhelming.”
After hearing nearly 90 minutes of testimony regarding Eagle, Brinegar told her that mental illness might be the explanation of the crime, but not an excuse.
“I have to tell you, it’s difficult to know what to believe,” Brinegar said. ”(Mental health evaluations) are based on what you say.”
She added that she didn’t trust Eagle in a community service role, and therefore did not order her to complete community service hours as part of her sentence.
“It’s definitely difficult to say that this is all due to a mental health issue,” she added. ”... These were very elaborate schemes.”
Hans Peter: 970-635-3630, email@example.com .