WESTMINSTER, MD., JAN. 22 -- A story about a boy in need of major heart surgery that drew thousands of dollars in charitable contributions is not true, prosecutors in this city said.
A Carroll County newspaper published a story last week saying that Jarvis Stern, 11, needed heart surgery that would cost $15,000 and his family could not afford it.
The story was subsequently picked up by WMAR-TV in Baltimore and donations of as much as $2,200 in one day began pouring in. It could not be learned how much money was raised. Parents and officials at Sacred Heart School in Glyndon, Md., where young Stern is a fifth-grade pupil, also were raising money for the operation.
State's Attorney Thomas Hickman said Thursday the boy did not need surgery.
After an investigation by the state's attorney's office, prompted by a county Department of Social Services complaint, Juvenile Master William Fitzgerald ordered the boy taken from his parents, Patricia and Richard Stern, and placed in a foster home. Hickman would not say why the action was taken.
He said that anyone who had contributed money toward the surgery can file theft charges in Carroll County District Court.
A fund organizer for WMAR-TV said all donations would be returned. The boy's parents would not comment on the case specifically. Richard Stern told the Baltimore Evening Sun yesterday that "I think things have gotten out of hand. That's all I have to say."