Woman who made $250,000 after pretending to be a Navy veteran with cancer is sentenced to six years in prison
A scammer who raised more than $250,000 after lying about being a Marine Corps veteran with cancer has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison.
Sarah Jane Cavanaugh claimed to have served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2009 to 2016. During this time, she contracted lung cancer from exposure to burn pits.
She was so dedicated to her act that she wore medals bought online, attended veterans’ events and even asked colleagues at the gym to tie her shoelaces, as she claimed war-related injuries to her fingers made her unable to tie them herself tie.
On Tuesday, she was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay all the money back after pleading guilty to aggravated identity theft, forged military discharge certificates, fraudulent use of military medals and four counts of fraud.
Veterans groups hailed the sentencing as they accused the 32-year-old of taking advantage of “kindness and respect for our nation’s distinguished veterans.”
Sarah Jane Cavanaugh raised $250,000 after lying about being a Marine Corps veteran with cancer
Cavanaugh pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, forged military discharge certificates, fraudulent use of military medals, and quadruple wire fraud
Cavanaugh’s web of lies began when she was a social worker at Providence’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
She used her position to access the records of a real Marine suffering from cancer, then forged documents to state that she had served in the Army before being honorably discharged.
She claimed to have stage IV lung cancer from exposure to burn pits.
Cavanaugh even bought a Purple Heart and Bronze Star medal online and wore it publicly and was made commander of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
The Rhode Island native raised more than $225.00 from the Wounded Warrior Project alone to pay for yoga classes, gym memberships, groceries and physical therapy.
She later claimed she couldn’t afford the insurance deductibles for her cancer treatment, prompting a veteran to pay for her — which was costing nearly $600 a month.
The money came from the same veteran whose medical records she first stole.
And prosecutors said Cavanaugh managed to get a service dog to help ease the “trauma” she allegedly suffered in combat.
She also received $18,500 in financial assistance from the Code of Support in Virginia for bills and $4,700 from a fundraising website.
Her story began to unravel in early 2022 after she applied for funds from the HunterSeven Foundation, which was conducting a review of her military service.
Veterans expressed their anger at Cavanaugh’s lies during her trial, when they accused her of stealing donations from those who really needed them.
Cavanaugh used her position to access the records of a real Marine with cancer, then forged documents to indicate she had served in the Army
Prosecutors said Cavanaugh managed to get a service dog to help ease the “trauma” she allegedly suffered in combat.
One told the court they had a friend who took his own life after being denied funding through a program called CreatiVets. Cavanaugh withdrew $15,000 from the program, court documents say.
“Boldly claiming the honor, service, and sacrifice of true veterans, this defendant lobbied the charity and decency of others for her own shameless financial gain,” US Attorney Zachary A. Cunha said after her sentencing.
Meanwhile, Patrick J. Hegarty, a special agent at a Northeast field office, said, “Persons falsely posing as decorated U.S. Armed Forces veterans demean the service of the men and women who selflessly serve our country.”
Lisa Woodbury Rama, a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars 152, said their lies “harmed us.”
Lisa Woodbury Rama, a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars 152, said her lies “harmed us”
Cavanaugh’s home in Warwick, Rhode Island is pictured. She is said to have used part of the stolen money for repairs to the house
And court documents say she suffered from “severe trauma” during her formative years in high school.
“There are things that we try to put out and support, and … we don’t have that much money, we don’t have that many volunteers. You can’t put that in a dollar,” she said.
Kensely Barrett, Cavanaugh’s attorney, initially requested a reduced sentence because she had no criminal record and was embarrassed by the case.
In court, Cavanaugh said she will “always carry this burden and shame for what I have done.”
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11877519/Woman-raked-250K-faking-cancer-stricken-Marine-veteran-jailed-six-years.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Woman who made $250,000 after pretending to be a Navy veteran with cancer is sentenced to six years in prison