WEST CHESTER, PA — The Chester County District Attorney’s Office announced that on Jan. 4, 2021, Jessica Cornell Smith was admitted to the County’s Mental Health Protocol Program (MHP) and sentenced to probation and restitution after pleading guilty to Theft by Deception and Forgery.
Authorities state the defendant used GoFundMe and Facebook to solicit funds by claiming she was being treated for cancer and needed money for her insurance deductible, bills, and childcare. On a separate occasion, she submitted a letter to the Department of Children, Youth, & Families (CYF) that was purportedly signed by a CHOP doctor.
Uwchlan Township police were tipped off to the scam by the defendant’s husband and a friend, both of whom were aware of the fundraisers and knew the defendant did not have Hereditary Non-Polypsis Colorectal Cancer and was not being treated at Abramson Cancer Center. Police recovered bank records showing deposits from PayPal and medical records that did not indicate a cancer diagnosis. The defendant received more than $12,000 in solicited funds.
The Forgery charge stemmed from a letter she claimed was signed by a CHOP physician when her child was treated at a CHOP Urgent Care for bug bites. The letter that was sent to CYF falsely stated that the injuries on the child were a “clear indication of child neglect and abuse and would be cause for a Children & Youth Family Services report against the father.”
The defendant was sentenced to three years of probation, admitted to MHP, and is required to return $4,375 to GoFundMe and $8,311 to Facebook for the Theft by Deception charge. She was sentenced to one year probation for the Forgery charge.
Uwchlan Township Police and Westtown-East Goshen Police investigated the two cases. Deputy District Attorney Erik Walschburger and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Acito handled the prosecution.
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