HILLSDALE — An unemployed man in Bergen County played the sympathy card to raise funds. The problem, police said, was that he was lying about having cancer.

Joseph O'Connell, 29, of Washington Township, was charged Thursday with fourth-degree theft by deception. He was released from custody with a date to appear in court next month.

Police in Hillsdale say O'Connell claimed to be suffering from a cancerous brain tumor and used that to receive donations.

Police, however, received a tip that questioned O'Connell's claims.

Police say an investigation determined that he was "not ill and was merely soliciting donations and food for his own personal use."

Police ask anyone who donated to O'Connell to contact Detective Sgt. Adam Hampton at 201-497-1537 or AHampton@hillsdalepolice.com

New Jersey 101.5 could not find a working phone number to contact O'Connell for comment on Saturday.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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