NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York woman went from blushing bride to convicted felon Wednesday after admitting she faked cancer to pay for a lavish wedding and honeymoon.
Jessica Vega, 25, pleaded guilty to lying about having cancer. It was a lie that led dozens of unknowing people to give her thousands of dollars in wedding perks, including a free wedding dress and flowers.
“She knows she needs help. For a lot of her own personal problems that, in part, created this whole situation. We want to take advantage of this,” said Vega’s attorney, Jeremiah Flaherty.
The former Orange County woman was visibly distraught in court. Vega’s attorney said his client is seeking the help she needs and is extremely remorseful. She plans to pay back all the donors more than $13,000, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“We want the people that made these donations, we want to make them better, too. We want to make them so that next time something like this arises in their lives, they don’t say ‘Well last time I did this, I got burned.’ We don’t want that because that hurts those people,” Flaherty said.
When Vega claimed to be suffering from leukemia, several vendors came out to give her the wedding of her dreams. Lisa Stoker, a friend of the groom, donated the wedding flowers.
Stoker said Vega was wrong for deceiving so many generous people, but she doesn’t believe the now mother of two belongs behind bars.
“I think she should get mental help and pay restitution to people,” Stoker said.
Vega’s husband, Michael O’Connell, was in court, but had no comment after the hearing. He divorced Vega after he learned of her lies. The couple has since reconciled and are raising their two children together.
“She’s not doing well because she has small children and they’re home and she’s not. But we’re getting there one step at a time,” said Vega’s attorney.
Vega will be sentenced on May 15. She faces up to four years in jail, but if she pays restitution, she could be released on time served.
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