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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Jessica Vega, Cancer Faker, Charged

Jessica Vega, Cancer Faker, Charged

A woman has been arrested after she accepted lavish wedding gifts and donations from strangers who thought she was dying of cancer.

The New York State attorney general's office announced on Tuesday that Jessica Vega, 25, had been indicted by the Orange County grand jury on charges of fraud and grand larceny after officials stated she received her "dream wedding" by falsely claiming she was dying of terminal cancer.

The state attorney general's office released a statement that explained the nature of her arrest.

"By pretending to have a terminal illness, Vega inexcusably took advantage of the community's hearts and minds, and profited off of their generosity," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

"Our office will hold this individual accountable for fleecing the public through lies and deception," he continued.

Vega, who is from Montgomery, N.Y., was arrested in Virginia on April 3 then extradited to New York and arraigned Friday in Orange County Court in Goshen where she entered a not guilty plea.

The indictment listed several victims including the Nu-Cavu restaurant where the bridal reception was held and allegedly where more than $1,000 was donated. The bride's dress, rings and honeymoon to Aruba were also donated.

"We tried to do the best we could for her. We thought she was in a situation where she needed help," co-owner of Nu-Cavu, Carmela Vitolo-Gelsomine, told KFSN.

Schneiderman explained that in 2010, Vega was just a resident of Montgomery and the mother of a 1-year-old daughter. She wanted to wed her child's father, Michael O'Connell, in a "dream wedding."

A story that was published in the Times Herald Record helped to focus attention on this woman's plea for help which was furthered with an alleged doctor's note indicating her terminal illness.

Soon after the wedding the couple divorced, but then reconciled and have been living in Virginia. The couple now has a second child, the Times Herald Record reported.

"She's a good mom," O'Connell said. "I want my kids to have their mother back."

If convicted of fraud or grand larceny, Vega faces up to four years in prison.

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