Ex-DJ admits he lied about having fatal disease - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Ex-DJ admits he lied about having fatal disease

By Elizabeth Donatelli

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Former Louisville radio personality Todd Kelly, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges he faked Lou Gehrig's disease and cancer, then stole as much as $150,000 donated to a foundation in his name. WAVE 3's Elizabeth Donatelli investigates.

Kelly, whose real name is Todd Smith, admitted guilt Tuesday to mail and wire fraud as well as money laundering. He is expected to receive a 7-year federal prison term and must pay more than $74,000 in restitution.

During the MDA telethon in 2001, an emotional Todd Kelly told Louisville he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a rare disease of the nervous system that causes rapid and irreversible degeneration of the nerves that send signals to muscles.

Kelly started the Todd Kelly Foundation to raise money and awareness a couple months after he publicly announced having the disease. He claimed that 80 cents of every dollar would be donated to medical research. Instead, much -- if not all -- went into his pocket.

Prosecutors stated in court that he spent the money on limos, concerts and airline tickets, as well as purchases at restaurants, casinos and novelty stores.

Three years after his ALS announcement, Kelly said he had cancer as well -- another unsubstantiated claim. Medical records subpoenaed by the court show high blood pressure and diabetes are his only problems.

He came under scrutiny about five years after setting up the Todd Kelly Foundation, when people became suspicious because he never showed any symptoms. Most people who contract ALS are confined to a wheelchair after about four years.

People who donated to the Todd Kelly Foundation told us they don't want their money back; instead, they would like to have it donated to legitimate organizations working to find a cure for the fatal disease.

David L. Huber, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, said Kelly took advantage of the community's generosity. "Greater Louisville is a very giving community. "And my only comment today would be that the defendant, Todd Kelly Smith, took advantage of our generosity."

Kelly, 37, also faces state theft charges. His trial date was set for August 27th in Jefferson Circuit Court but his attorney told us he intends to enter a guilty plea.

Several former colleagues of Kelly's were in court Tuesday, and they say, at first, Kelly would give them updates on his status, but they became concerned when he showed no symptoms and ultimately felt betrayed when they learned the truth.

Online Reporter: Elizabeth Donatelli

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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