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MARION, Ohio—Marion County Sheriff investigators have finished a nearly three-month-long investigation into a deputy who killed himself after his wife questioned him on his claims that he had cancer.

Deputy Joe Russell told his friends and family he was suffering from lung, brain and testicular cancer. Reportedly, Russell used tanning beds to redden his skin and shaved his head to fake chemo treatment.

Russell was the beneficiary of both church and Fraternal Order of Police fundraisers and had taken several days off for treatment.

He fatally shot himself at his Delaware home in October.

An autopsy revealed Russell did not have cancer, according to Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey.

Bailey said investigators began looking at Russell’s life from his high school years.

“To be a deputy sheriff in the state of Ohio, you have to have a high school diploma at a minimum and I began to wonder if he even had that,“ Bailey said.

It is estimated he made about $17,000 off of the fundraisers.

Bailey said it appears Russell did it for the sympathy and attention he received more than the financial benefit.

“He made all this up, this cancer story because he liked the sympathy. He liked the feeling that it game him from people feeling sorry for him,“ Bailey said.

The sheriff said Russel faked letterhead from the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University Medical Center, printing them on his own computer to further his ruse.

“An employee of this department has to provide documentation of their illness. Not specifically their illness, but they have to get cleared by a doctor to return to duty and he provided those documents. Those documents turned out to be from his computer,“ Bailey said.

Bailey says they are looking more critically now at medical excuses employees may have.

Russell was the county’s 2008 Deputy of the Year and had been with the sheriff’s office since September 2004.

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I agree and its tragic that he was a decorated officed serving people and scamming them! Also He did leave behind a Widow to pick up the pieces and face the consequences of HIS ACTIONS!!!!

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