TOWSON, Md. - She friended old friends on Facebook, and Dina Leone told a tragic story of how she was racing against time as an uninsured mother with two children fighting a losing battle with stage four stomach cancer.
Jennifer Lynch had lost her own mother to cancer and offered wigs, groceries and cash for fear that Leone couldn’t afford treatment for the disease.
"Cancer is such a horrible disease and it can take those in days and it can take those in months,” said Lynch, “You can suffer minimal and you can suffer long, and I just wanted her to have each day fulfilled to its fullest with her family."
Another former classmate honored her dying wish to fly her family to California for a Disney vacation.
Only Dina Leone wasn’t dying.
She had shaved her head and faked cancer as a ploy to con her friends out of thousands of dollars.
When some grew wise to her scheme, she threatened to take them to court for lying about her.
"This is just a mean crime. It's just really mean,” said Baltimore County Prosecutor Adam Lippe, “It's well thought out. It's planned out, and what's worse was not the taking of the money, but this defendant wanted us to incarcerate the victims."
"Leone's attorney says she suffers from 'mixed personality disorder', and in a tear-filled address to the court, she said she had difficulty distinguishing between right and wrong.
Circuit Court Judge John Turnbull II said he had no sympathy for Leone, calling her a professional thief, as he sentenced her to 15 years behind bars.
"I don't have any thoughts on exactly how much time she's going to serve,” said Lynch, “The one thought that I do have is that she found God, and through all of the pain that she caused everyone, she can start forgiving herself and asking for forgiveness."
The judge also ordered Leone to repay her victims more than $14,000.
Leone had previously been convicted in a mortgage fraud scam in Carroll County.
The judge in that case gave her a 10-year suspended sentence, and it could now add to her time behind bars.
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