A woman from Alabama has been sentenced to 25 months in prison after taking advantage of human generosity and compassion in a sickening crime where she masqueraded as a terminally ill cancer patient to raise over a quarter of a million dollars.
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo raised a total of $260,000 dollars from 2014 to early May 2017 by pretending to be dying of cancer and needing money to cover the cost of medical treatment. Cataldo pleaded guilty in August to wire fraud and bank fraud and has been ordered to pay restitution to the victims of her despicable scheme.
Her defense attorney, Adam Danneman, tried to paint her as a victim herself telling the court she was a former special education teacher who struggled with the death of her brother in 2014. Danneman went on to say Cataldo suffered from an addiction to pain medication and used money from the donations to feed her habit. Danneman also said of Cataldo, "Her brother died, and she gave up."
On the other hand, prosecutors painted a picture of manipulation and condemned Cataldo's actions saying, "This defendant’s conduct was reprehensible." U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town told the court, "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."
Cataldo offered an apology at her sentencing saying, "I am overcome with sorrow. They trusted me, they loved me. I was deceitful and I lied. I’m sorry. I don’t know a better word than sorry." Cataldo was sentenced in Federal court to 25 months and three years probation after her sentence as well as full mental and drug health counseling.
The 25 months she was sentenced to took place in Federal court, she still faces two first-degree theft charges in county court.
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