Jessica Vega told the Middletown Times Herald-Record in 2010 she was dying of acute myeloid leukemia. She was 23 then, and wanted to marry the father of her young daughter, Michael O'Connell. People rushed to send Vega thousands of dollars in donations, hoping to grant her dying wish.
Vega and O'Connell married in May 2010 and set off to Aruba for their honeymoon.
Four months later, O'Connell accused Vega of lying about the illness, and called the Herald-Record. As proof, Vega provided the newspaper with a doctor's letter; however, the doctor's office denied ever having seen Vega.
The couple are now divorced, O'Connell said.
Vega was arrested April 3 in Virginia and extradited to Orange County, N.Y. She pleaded not guilty to six felony charges at her arraignment Friday: five counts of grand larceny and one count scheme to defraud. She was indicted on all charges Monday and is to appear before a judge April 20.
"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. "Our office will hold this individual accountable for fleecing the public through lies and deception."
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