Did California bride fake terminal cancer for ‘dream wedding’ donations?

Eric Pfeiffer

Twenty-five-year-old Jessica Vega is facing multiple felony charges after she allegedly faked a case of terminal cancer in order to get a free "dream wedding" and honeymoon.

The Times Herald-Record reports New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderm announced on Monday that an Orange County Grand Jury has indicted Vega on five counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud.

Vega, who had been living in New York until the indictment, has been extradited to authorities in California.

"By pretending to have a terminal illness, Vega inexcusably took advantage of the community's hearts and minds, and profited off of their generosity," Attorney Schneiderman said. "Our office will hold this individual accountable for fleecing the public through lies and deception."

In 2010, Vega claimed to be dying from acute myeloid leukemia and wanted to marry fiancé Michael O'Connell, the father of her child. Friends, family and total strangers rushed to support Vega, giving her a $1,200 wedding dress, wedding rings and even flowers for her wedding reception. The couple was then treated to a free honeymoon in Aruba.

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However, it appears O'Connell was not in on the alleged fraud.  When he contacted Dr. Dan Costin about Vega's treatment, he was told she had never been a patient. O'Connell then reached out to the Times Herald-Record to explain that the illness was likely a fake. The couple was divorced shortly after Vega was exposed. But in an even stranger twist, the couple is now once again reunited and has had  a second child together.

"She's a good mom, and that's all that counts at the end of the day," O'Connell told the paper. "I want my kids to have their mother back."

He said he thinks the best course is for Vega to repay the wedding donors and seek mental health treatment, rather than jail time. Vega could face up to four years in prison for each felony if convicted.


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