Woman accused of faking breast cancer turns down plea deal
Posted at: 10/23/2012 7:03 AM
| Updated at: 10/23/2012 5:20 PM
By: Berkeley Brean | WHEC.com
The woman accused of faking cancer had to make a life changing decision Tuesday. Plead guilty and get one to five years in jail or go to trial and risk up to 20 years in prison.
Melissa Jones is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from people who gave her money thinking she had cancer. Jones always maintained her innocence and so Tuesday she turned down the plea and will go to trial.
The biggest charges Melissa Jones faces are the six grand larceny charges. That’s one charge for every fundraiser that collected money for her. The Ontario County District Attorney’s Office says Jones faked having cancer as a way to get the money.
In court Tuesday were a dozen of Jones’s old neighbors who said they gave her money. They told News10NBC they feel like Melissa Jones took advantage of them.
Dina Mangiamele, who donated money, said, “Now that she's going to take it to trial, she's going to have more time to serve rather than take the plea. To us it’s about getting justice served so that's what we're looking for.”
Kevin McKain, Defense Attorney, said, “As we said in the beginning, Ms Jones, we believe is innocent. She is innocent and she's wanted her date and trial for the entirety of this case and we just let the court know what we've been telling them from the beginning, that she wants her date and trial.”
A couple of weeks ago, Jones released a statement saying she truly believed she had cancer but now realizes it was misdiagnosed. She says she never asked for the fundraisers and never got any of the money.
The trial is January 7. The judge blocked out two weeks for the trial. The prosecution witness list includes more than 200 people who will testify that they donated money. Jones’s attorney says he’s going to try to pair that down to what he calls a “representative” list of people.