"Dying bride" indicted in cancer scam

CBS/AP

(CBS/AP) GOSHEN, N.Y. - An Orange County grand jury has indicted a woman who pretended to have terminal cancer so she could have a lavish wedding reception and honeymoon.

The Times Herald-Record in Montgomery, N.Y., reports the grand jury indicted Jessica Vega, 25, with grand larceny and scheme to defraud. She also faces a misdemeanor count on possessing a forged document - a doctor's diagnosis of her terminal illness.

According to the indictment, Vega - a former Montgomery resident - accepted thousands of dollars in donated services and goods after claiming in 2010 that she was dying of leukemia and had less than a year to live. The Times Herald-Record ran a story then on Vega's wedding wish in which she said she wanted to marry her fiance and be with the couple's baby daughter before she passed away.

Generous strangers donated thousands of dollars in goods and services, including wedding rings and flowers. Bella Couture Dress Bridal Shop provided a $1,200 Mona Lisa Royale wedding dress for free.

Vega married Michael O'Connell in May 2010 and the couple spent their honeymoon in Aruba.

Four months later, O'Connell told the newspaper that Vega had lied about having cancer, and a cited a letter from a doctor stating her diagnosis was fake.

The couple divorced over the incident, and O'Connell moved to Virginia. Vega later joined him. They now have two children.

Vega was arraigned last Friday and pleaded not guilty. She's being held in county jail on $10,000 bail.

O'Connell cooperated with the attorney general's investigation but told the Times-Herald that while Vega must pay back those who donated to her, she needs mental health treatment, not jail.

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

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