Former Napa police dispatcher Dannille Vanderpool was sentenced to 179 days in jail and five years of probation today for bilking friends and law enforcement benevolent associations of tens of thousands of dollars.
Vanderpool falsely claimed to have cancer and told friends and coworkers for years about treatments she did not receive and obstacles she did not face. Charged with several counts of grand theft as well as falsifying documents, she pleaded guilty to one charge of grand theft. Her attorney told the court that Vanderpool is battling mental health issues that contributed to her conduct.
At today’s hearing three victims of Vanderpool’s actions spoke, including American Canyon police officer and former Vanderpool friend Wendy Daniels, who truly is battling cancer.
Daniels told the court this morning that she would help Vanderpool by mowing her lawn, cooking meals and working in her garden, all the while battling breast cancer herself.
At one point, Daniels said she was too sick to help Vanderpool and informed her of this.
"She made me feel guilty that I could not help her," Daniels said while fighting back tears.
Daniels and Darlene Elia of the Napa Police Officer's Association both spoke in court about how Vanderpool faked having brain cancer at the same time officer Craig McCarthy was dying from brain cancer.
"She played on our raw emotions and she lied," said Elia.
"She talked about her symptoms and it scared me to death because someday I would have those same symptoms," said Daniels.
Vanderpool's attorney, Seth Chazin, said Vanderpool suffers from bipolar disorder and that mental illness is what caused her to fake having cancer, not a determination to gather donations from others.
"Things went awry when the mental illness took over and got the best of her," said Chazin.
Judge Francisca Tisher admonished Vanderpool while approving the 6-month sentence.
"It is one thing when you take property from someone, it is another when you take from their soul," said Tisher. "When an offense like this takes place it is almost unspeakable."
Tisher ordered Vanderpool to make full restitution of the roughly $50,000 donated to her and received through the city's fund for employees needing additional time off work.
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