A mother-of-five in Illinois who faked terminal ovarian cancer, even to her own family and friends, in order to elicit $35,000 in donations has been given a sentence of three years in jail.
32-year-old Alissa Jackson, a nurse, admitted faking the illness in court in December of last year and was sentenced Wednesday in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
Brendan Kelly, Clair Stateâ€™s Attorney, said that under normal circumstances, her crimes would have only warranted probation, but that the depth and length of her fraud warranted a prison sentence.
She even lied to her children, aged between five and 18, and told them she was dying.
“This woman created a cancer, not just a cancer that was used to dupe people out of their money, not just a cancer that she created in her mind, but a cancer of mistrust in this community.
“It is our instinct to want to help our fellow human being when they tell us they are in pain, especially when they have something as serious as cancer.
“When people do that and react in a way to help their fellow human being, this is the best thing about this community, they they help their fellow human being in their time of need,” Kelly said.
Her deception started in October of 2013 when she told a friend, Jenn Huelsmann, that she had Stage IV ovarian cancer and that the disease was spreading to her organs and brain.
The community rallied around her, even setting up a Facebook page called Alissa’s Army that helped to sell t-shirts, throw fundraising parties, make food for the family, and collect donations from multiple local businesses.
Many people were touched by the story on her Facebook page, which explained she had five young children and that she’d previously been a drug addict before getting her life together.
She was given meals, cash donations, and one family even donated their minivan to teach their own children the importance of charity.
She even comforted a genuine cancer sufferer, Chris Allsup, who is the twin sister of Patricia Allsup who had raised $1,300 for Jackson, saying that she knew what she was going through.
But things began unraveling in April of 2014 when the deceptive woman’s friend noticed that Ms. Jackson’s health hadn’t seemed to decline one iota.
She then hired a private investigator who checked into the claims before suggesting she go to police.
Also raising suspicions were incidents in which Jackson was seen friends of hers practicing in batting cages and chasing her dog in the park.
She was arrested in May of 2014 and pleaded guilty seven months later.
She’s previously apologized to her victims and pledged to pay back the money.