updated 2/19/2009 5:30:41 PM ET 2009-02-19T22:30:41

A woman who collected donations of sick leave and money from co-workers while lying for five years about having breast cancer was arrested Thursday on theft and forgery charges.

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Keele Maynor, 38, also received support from local cancer groups, who were surprised to learn she wasn't receiving treatment.

Maynor was arrested in Union City, Ga., said Bill Cox, the district attorney for Hamilton County, Tenn., where a grand jury indicted her this week. She had been staying just outside Atlanta since leaving Chattanooga after her ruse came to light.

Maynor resigned in a Dec. 12 e-mail to her supervisor at the Chattanooga city land development department, saying she didn't know why she made up the cancer tale and kept telling it.

"I started fabricating this story about cancer in 2003 and it has snowballed and finally came to a head," she wrote. "I am relieved for two reasons. I don't have to keep up the charade anymore and I am finally getting some help to figure out why I did this in the first place."

The e-mail also said she was seeing a therapist.

Maynor, who was paid $24,000 a year as an administrative assistant, said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 but has been cancer-free since radiation treatment in 2001.

Richard Beeland, a spokesman for the mayor's office, has said records show that since August 2003, Maynor took 194 days of paid leave donated by co-workers, which at her pay rate is worth nearly $18,000. Beeland said she also accepted money from some of them.

An officer at the Georgia jail said Maynor was in custody there. She has previously refused to talk to reporters.

Cox said she would be returned to Chattanooga but no court appearance was immediately scheduled.

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