Thursday, October 30, 2014

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Bride charged with faking cancer to get donations

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Albany/HV: Bride charged with faking cancer to get donations
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A bride accused of lying about having cancer to get funds has been indicted. Our Venise Toussaint has the story.

MONTGOMERY, N.Y. -- A trail of lies and deception allegedly brought on by bride Jessica Vega could land her in jail. Officials say Vega faked having terminal cancer in order to get gifts and money from sympathetic donors like Lisa Stoker.

“’Till this day, I get upset about it that she would even do that,” Stoker said.

Stoker, a friend of the groom, donated $2,000 worth of floral arrangements and was one of many who say they were scammed into funding the 25-year-old's dream wedding and honeymoon in Aruba.

Vega has been charged with six felonies and one misdemeanor, including one count of fraud and five count of grand larceny.

In his statement, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vows to hold Vega accountable for fleecing the public, saying, "Vega inexcusably took advantage of the community's hearts and minds and profited off of their generosity."

“She was so deep with her lie that it became lie upon lie. It was a snowball effect,” said Stoker.

Stoker says Vega went so far as to cut patches in her hair to make it seem as if she’d undergone chemo therapy, telling her family and friends she only had six months to live.

In an interview with YNN last year, Vega’s now ex-husband, Michael O’Connell, said like many others, he’d never imagined Vega’s illness was a hoax.

"When somebody says they have cancer, you don't expect them to be lying about it. It's automatically you let your guard down and give them the benefit of the doubt because who lies about these things,” O'Connell said.

Stoker says she's glad Vega has been exposed but hopes she receives medical evaluation and therapy in lieu of jail time.

"She's obviously got mental issues and I think she should get some help," Stoker said.

If convicted, Vega faces up to four years in prison for each count against her.

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