A former federal drug agent and his wife, who pretended to have cancer and collected donations, have promised to repay the government $60,000 in connection with the deception.

In a proposed settlement filed last week in federal court in Salt Lake City, Jeffrey and Tania Clark agreed to make $1,000 a month payments until the debt is paid, with interest. The deal was signed by the couple but is awaiting a federal judge's signature.

Repaying the money would end a civil lawsuit filed against the couple by the U.S. Attorney's Office, alleging fraud.

Jeffrey Clark was a federal drug enforcement agent in Houston until 2001, when he asked his superiors for a transfer back to Utah because his wife had cancer.

"Tania was diagnosed with cancer that has progressively worsened," Jeffrey Clark wrote in a request, mentioning that his wife was due to undergo her fourth round of chemotherapy treatments.

He attached a letter signed by "Robert Bates, M.D.," claiming Tania Clark had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer, and that "the odds are that Tania will die of the consequences of this disease."

In her own letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tania Clark said her family was trying to remain strong in the face of the diagnosis.

"I am ready to beet (sic) all the odds, and all the statistics, it is just going to take some time," she wrote.

Jeffrey Clark said they had a "strong family network" back in Utah and asked the DEA to pick up the tab for the move. The DEA shelled out $47,805 to move the couple from Texas to Utah.

The couple moved to West Jordan, where Tania Clark told family, friends and neighbors she was dying from the rare cancer. They rallied, donating thousands of dollars to pay for her treatment. Some even offered to donate their own bone marrow to help her.

The claims unraveled when the monthly South Valley Journal newspaper published a story about Tania's battle against cancer, prompting e-mails and calls claiming it was a scam.

After being questioned by West Jordan police detectives, Clark admitted she didn't have cancer. She pleaded guilty to theft charges in 2005 and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

"It started as a lie to my husband that got out of control," she said at her sentencing in 3rd District Court, claiming she just wanted her husband to pay attention to her.

The lawsuit filed by the DEA said there is no "Robert Bates, M.D.," and that Clark was never a cancer patient in Texas or Utah.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com