Melissa Jones, the Canandaigua woman accused last year of faking she had cancer, pleaded guilty today to two counts of grand larceny and two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. She was indicted May 16 on 16 charges, including varying degrees of grand larceny.
Melissa Jones, the Canandaigua woman accused of faking she had breast cancer, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of grand larceny and two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the Ontario County Courthouse.
Jones is facing 1 2/3 to 5 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 27 at the Ontario County Courthouse.
“The community needed her to acknowledge what she did,” Ontario County District Attorney R. Michael Tantillo said, adding that as part of the plea, an admission of guilt from Jones was required.
Jones was charged Feb. 28 with third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. She was indicted May 16 on 16 charges, including varying degrees of grand larceny. Tantillo added Wednesday that she gained $20,000 to $30,000 from more than 200 people — through fundraising and donations — by pretending she had cancer. She also accepted other gifts, such as homemade blankets, he said.
According to Jones’ attorney, Kevin McKain, one reason she decided to accept the plea deal, and avoid a trial, was that she realized that she “has the rest of her life in front of her” and didn’t want to spend it in a prison cell.
It was expected that McKain would request a continuance for the trial, which was scheduled to begin Jan. 7. Tantillo said he was surprised that there was a plea Wednesday.
“I surmise that the defendant and her attorney had a very frank heart-to-heart conversation where the strength of the case was communicated to her, and she decided to plead guilty,” Tantillo said.
Despite the plea, McKain still claimed that Jones was, at one point, diagnosed with cancer.
“I still feel there was some initial diagnosis of cancer; I still feel there was some wrongdoing done by some of the medical personnel involved in this case,” McKain said.
Jones declined to comment.
Wednesday’s court appearance was in front of Judge William Kocher.