WILKE-BARRE – The former pastor of a Wilkes-Barre church falsely claimed a cancer treatment center in Philadelphia was sponsoring a raffle to raise money to pay for his wife's treatments, according to a spokesman for the center.
Hugh McDermott, compliance director for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, said the Rev. Eugene Lewis, former pastor at First Church of Christ church, did not have permission to use the center's name in soliciting donations for his wife, Amy.
McDermott also said Amy Lewis was never a patient at the center, and the physician whom the Lewis' claim was treating Amy never worked there.
It's all lies about where she was treated and how she needed money to be treated here, McDermott said.
Eugene Lewis was dismissed as pastor of the church, located at Horton Street and Carey Avenue, on Saturday. In an interview Tuesday, he said he was forced to resign after church officials questioned the legitimacy of the raffle and the couples' claims that Amy was ill.
McDermott stressed he does not know whether Amy Lewis does or does not have cancer.
The issue, he said, is that the Lewis' falsely claimed she was receiving treatment there and that the center sponsored the raffle.
No one is claiming she does not have cancer. What is the issue is the myriad of lies she put around this and putting our logo on all her letters, he said.
McDermott said the cancer center got wind of a raffle after someone suspicious about its legitimacy sent officials copy of a letter. The letter, which contains the center's logo, stated it was sponsoring a raffle to help Amy Lewis pay for treatment not covered by insurance, he said.
She has not been a patient here and we did not sponsor a raffle, McDermott said. I called Mr. Lewis . . . I told him he did not have permission to do this.
A copy of the raffle letter was received by The Times Leader on Friday from an anonymous person who claimed to be a member of the church. The person said they did not wish to be identified out of fear of retaliation.
The person also included a second letter, reportedly from a Dr. Angelino, addressed to All it may concern. That letter states Amy Lewis is suffering from bone and liver cancer, and that he set up the raffle to help her pay for medications that were not covered by insurance.
No Dr. Angelino ever worked here, McDermott said.
Reached by phone Friday, Eugene Lewis declined comment, referring all questions to his attorney, Peter Moses.
Moses said he did not wish to debate the case in the media because it involves issues relating to Amy Lewis' health. He did say family is in the process of gathering information and hopes to publicly address the issues raised in the near future.
I can assure you there are a lot of facts surrounding this matter that need to be made public, Moses said. At some point the Lewis family will have the opportunity to share their side of the story. I would hope the press and the public do not rush to judgment.
The raffle tickets sold for $10 each and offered prizes of a $500 gift card to Walmart; a $100 gift card to Schiel's grocery store and a $25 Visa gift card. The winners were to be chosen Nov. 17.
The letter reportedly written by Dr. Angelino identified three winners. The Times Leader was able to contact one of the winners on Friday. The man said his wife received the $100 Schiel's gift card in the mail on Wednesday, three days after Eugene Lewis was dismissed from the church.
The man, who asked not to be identified, said he and his wife are hesitant to accept the card after reading a Times Leader story on Wednesday that detailed questions regarding the raffle.
I'm sure it's because he got called out on it. I don't know what to do, the man said.