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Oklahoma man charged in fake cancer scheme

EDMOND, Okla. - When Tracey LaValle met Al Reynolds, she knew he had battled cancer twice already.

He fought and survived.

"I thought he was the best human being I'd ever met," Tracey said. "Really, I thought I'd finally found what every relationship was supposed to be like," she said.

LaValle had no idea their love story would unravel a web of lies that would end at the Oklahoma County Jail.

They met at church; two single parents who'd found love once again.

A few months into their courtship on Father's Day weekend, Reynolds dropped a bombshell.

His cancer was back.

The diagnosis was difficult for everyone including Reynolds's ex-wife, Shawna Nord, and their young daughter.

"He had a form of leukemia that was curable. 85% curable," said Nord. "When (our daughter) would be over there, he would be sick from his chemo, and so she would hear him in the restroom."

Their teenage daughter was terrified of losing her dad to leukemia.

"She would come home in tears saying, 'I don't know if he's going to make it,'" Nord said.

But, Reynolds was a fighter and so was his new love.

Reynolds and LaValle launched a gofundme page and gathered an army of supporters.

"It got to the point that he didn't have any income to take care of the cancer medications and appointments," LaValle remembers.

Brett Burleson and dozens of others donated to the gofundme page which grew to more than $10,000.

"I remember I went up to him at church, and we had a long conversation about what he was going through," Burleson said. "We helped spread the word through our networks, through social media."

There were several fundraisers including some high-dollar benefits around town, silent auctions and t-shirt sales at local gyms.

"As Christians, we always try to help someone in need, especially at our church," said Reynold's church member Darrell Mason. "We're expected to be givers."

"I honestly feel like I couldn't sleep well if I knew I had money and someone was in a life or death situation," said Darrell Mason's wife, Debbie.

Meanwhile, Reynolds started up a business as a motivational speaker which he called the "We Fight Movement," encouraging others to stay strong with hashtags like #canceryoulose.

Privately, beneath the facade of social media, Reynolds was less enthusiastic, according to Burleson he seemed almost desperate.

"Sitting in my office I get a text from Al. He said, 'Do you have a minute to talk?' I said 'Sure.' So, he called me. He said his landlord was going to kick him out of his apartment if he didn't have a check by 5 p.m. today for this amount," Burleson remembers.

The Burlesons cut him a check.

Darrell and Debbie Mason did the same, twice.

And, the Masons hired Reynolds to do a website for their business.

"I was caught up in trying to do the right thing," Debbie said. "He met with me and made an elaborate presentation in my home about all he could do. I was really impressed. Honestly, for awhile it went really good - until it went south."

Around that same time, things with LaValle were also going south.

Reynolds had racked up $12,000 in charges on her credit card, and she discovered her diamond engagement ring was a fake.

Then, LaValle started to have doubt about the cancer.

It crept in like a cancer itself.

Four years after their first date, Tracey LaValle broke off her engagement to Al Reynolds.

Seeds of doubt had sprouted deep roots; deep enough to call into question what she thought she'd seen and heard.

"I would hear stories of episodes of throwing up. When we were at the gym working out he would step off and come back and say, 'Oh I had to go throw up,' remembers LaValle.

She called Oklahoma City Police.

White collar crimes detectives started investigating Reynold's claims of cancer.

Detectives interviewed family and friends who had also started growing concern.

"I think we started having doubts," said Burleson.

"I knew the signs of someone who goes through chemo," said Nord. "You don't look like a healthy man that is walking the street going to the gym every day."

Oklahoma City Police Detectives searched desperately for any evidence that Reynolds had been treated for cancer.

Instead, police unearthed a pack of lies that stretched back years.

Oklahoma County District Attorney, David Prater calls the case "absolute fraud."

"This defendant just defrauded good-hearted people who were very benevolent," Prater said. "They were loving and just wanted to help someone they didn't even know who they thought had cancer."

Officers arrested Reynolds at his home in Edmond on three felony charges.

Police say they have accounted for more than $60,000 in donations for cancer Reynolds has never had.

"I lived four years of my life believing so many lies that were very, very believable," LaValle said. "I was fooled. I was betrayed. I was deceived."

"It's just absolutely despicable," said Prater. "I don't know any other way to describe this type of behavior. This defendant or any other. He's just a thief of the lowest form."

NewsChannel 4 called Reynolds on his cell phone to ask about the cancer and the donations and the state's case against him.

He answered the phone and pretended to be someone else.

"He is not available if you're wanting to reach him you can reach him through his attorney, he's not making any comments at this time," said Reynolds.

"These people create their own hell," said Prater. "Whether the criminal justice system or otherwise punishes him appropriately for what he's done here. He's created his own hell. He'll have to live with that."

The irony is that Reynolds will live, cancer-free.

Oklahoma City Police are still investigating the depth of the scheme.

If you have any information, call police headquarters and ask for the white-collar crimes division.

Reynolds has not responded to repeated requests for interviews.

His attorney, Keegan Harroz, sent the following statement:

Mr. Reynolds is actively working with Harroz Law to address these allegations with the Oklahoma County District Attorney. We cannot comment on the role that Mr. Reynolds and Ms. Tracey LaValle played in this matter. Mr. Reynold’s asks that the public please respect his privacy and looks forward to his day in court.