An upstate New York bride who pretended to be dying with cancer conned a community into donating thousands for a lavish wedding, but is likely to avoid a prison sentence for her crimes.
Jessica Vega (25) has been ordered to pay back the $13,368 she scammed from locals who offered rings, food, gifts, and even a wedding dress, after the mother told them she had been diagnosed with terminal leukemia.
Vega’s husband, Irish American Michael O’Connell, exposed her crimes after he discovered she had lied about her illness.
She pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery charges on Wednesday in Orange County Court. The accused could face up to 20-years in prison, but under her plea deal will avoid prison if she pays back all her victims.
Dressed in an orange jump suit, Vega broke down in tears after Attorney General Emmanuel Neji questioned her on Wednesday.
“You continued to foster that story that you had cancer and you were dying, is that correct?” he asked, according to the Times Herald Record.
“Yes, sir,” she said.
The young couple married in May 2010 and lived together in Montgomery before splitting up. The couple divorced but later had a second child.
Michael and his father, Chris O'Connell, were present in court. Also present was Vegas’s aunt Alba Torres, who argued loudly as they left the court.
“I just want to say Michael had a lot to do with this,” Torres said.
O’Connell said Torres was “ignorant” and merely worried about her family’s name. He maintained they have supported his ex-wife and hired her attorney.
Vega will stay in Orange County Jail until she is sentenced next month.