Friday 24 January 2020

New York bride accused of faking cancer to pay for dream wedding

Jessica Vega in April 2010 trying on her wedding dress at Bella Coutre, in Newburg, N.Y.
Jessica Vega in April 2010 trying on her wedding dress at Bella Coutre, in Newburg, N.Y.

A NEW York bride accused of faking terminal cancer so she could raise money from sympathetic well wishers to pay for a dream wedding has been arrested and charged with fraud.

Jessica Vega, 25, faces six felony charges. She claimed to have only a few months to live and wanted to fulfil a wish to experience a dream wedding.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in a statement, said the woman had raised thousands of dollars with her cancer story, paying for a May 2010 wedding and a honeymoon to Aruba. After news of her plight spread, businesses such as a bridal dress shop and a restaurant donated to her cause.

It was later revealed that Vega, formerly of Montgomery, New York, had lied about her health. A local newspaper, the Times Herald-Record, reported that Vega's husband had called it four months after the wedding to accuse her of faking the illness.

The couple divorced over the incident, her former husband, Michael O'Connell, told the Orange County, New York, paper. O'Connell has not been charged in the matter.

But in a curious twist, the newspaper added that the couple had recently reunited.

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

Vega was arraigned on Friday and pleaded not guilty. The felony charges carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

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