Canandaigua woman accused of faking breast cancer indicted
Posted at: 05/30/2012 9:23 AM
| Updated at: 05/30/2012 6:53 PM
By: Nikki Rudd/Christine VanTimmeren | WHEC.com
A Grand Jury indictment was unsealed today against the woman accused of faking cancer to take people's money. The indictment was unsealed in Ontario County Court this morning.
Jones is charged with 16 counts, including grand larceny, scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child.
Walking out of court Wednesday, Melissa Jones didn't have much to say about the 16-count indictment, but neighbors who gave her their money certainly did.
"It's a shame that someone would take advantage of such a great community. and such great neighbors. and take this as far as what she did," says one neighbor, Dina, who only wanted to go by her first name.
Investigators say Jones created fake documentation saying she had breast cancer and then held a number of fundraisers asking for money.
"this has had a big impact on a lot of people, first of course the people who donated money to her out of the goodness of their hearts," says Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo.
Dina said between her and her husband, they gave Jones about $1,000. What's worse is that Dina is a breast cancer survivor herself.
"We all came together as a community and helped out with her kids. Did what we could do to help out. and it was thrown back in our face," Dina told News10NBC.
Tantillo says he believes Jones raised more than $30,000 here in New York State, and another $20,000 from a fundraiser in Massachusetts.
"So far we've been able to isolate slightly more than 200 individual donors who have been defrauded," Tantillo says.
Maybe the biggest concern of all is for Jones' 10-year-old son. Investigators say Jones told him she was dying and didn't have much longer to live.
For Dina, it's about much more than just the money, though, because she knows firsthand who that money could have helped-- people like her. "Right now I'm still mad. I'm very mad that somebody could actually take it to this limit."
Jones is currently out of custody on $25,000 bail. Many neighbors wonder where she got that money.
If convicted of grand larceny, which is a felony, she could spend 2 1/3 to 7 years in jail.
Tantillo says if Jones is convicted, he will ask for full restitution for all the people who donated money to her, but right now there's no guarantee.
Jones is due back in court July 25.