A Sterrett, Alabama, woman who swindled loved ones out of more than $260,000 by pretending to have terminal cancer was sentenced to 25 months in federal prison on Wednesday.
Tuscaloosa News reported that Jennifer Flynn Cataldo, 37, lied to friends and family for more than two years and accepted donations intended to cover her medical treatments, a trip to Disney World, and even her funeral expenses. Cataldo would collect the money through GoFundMe, emails, text messages, and Facebook.
The woman used part of the money she fraudulently earned to purchase 30 to 40 non-prescribed Percocet every day, documents obtained by WHNT revealed. Defense attorney Adam Danneman claimed that she developed an addiction after her brother died in 2014.
Cataldo pleaded guilty in August to one count of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud. During sentencing, she apologized for her actions, saying that she was “overcome with sorrow,” according to Al.com.
In addition to her prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins ordered Cataldo to pay $80,000 in restitution to her victims. Prison time handed down for forthcoming state charges will run concurrently with Wednesday’s sentence.
The 37-year-old will also serve three years of probation and undergo drug and mental health counseling following her release from prison.
“This defendant’s conduct was reprehensible,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Jay E. Town said. “For more than two years, she engaged in an elaborate scheme that preyed upon the sympathy and generosity of her friends and family. Not only did she fake cancer to take their money, she used her minor child as part of her ruse and allowed the child to believe his mother was dying.
“She has earned every nickel of her punishment.”
[Featured Image: Alabama Attorney General]