Judge orders probation and treatment in cancer scam case – Daily Local News

WEST CHESTER The Chester Springs woman who authorities said duped others into thinking she had cancer and asked them to help her financially, then collected thousands of dollars for help with a medical condition she did not have, has been sentenced to probation and mental health treatment.

Jessica Cornell, also known by her married name, Jessica Smith, had entered a plea to felony theft by deception last year, and was sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Ann Marie Wheatcraft Monday in Treatment Court, which imposes a Mental Health Protocol on those entering the program, on Monday.

Cornell, 33, was sentenced to three years of probation, during which time she will be under enhanced supervision by the county Adult Probation Department and Treatment Court officials, including Wheatcraft. She faces sanctions should she violate any of the requirements placed on her for mental health treatment.

The sentenced was negotiated by Deputy District Attorney Eric Walschburger, who oversees the D.A.s Treatment Court programs, and Cornells attorney, Michael DiCindio of West Chester. It was presented to Wheatcraft by Assistant District Attorney Jessica Acito.

In addition to following the mental health treatment program, Cornell was ordered as part of the sentence to pay restitution of $8,311 to Facebook and $4,375 to GoFundMe, the social media sites where she made her pleas for financial help. Cornell made a payment of half the total amount on Monday.

At the same time, Cornell pleaded guilty to a separate charge of forgery and was sentenced to an additional year of probation for a scheme uncovered by Westtown-East Goshen police last year in which she wrote a letter purporting to be from her sons pediatrician saying the child was suffering from bed bugs. The letter was an alleged attempt to sabotage her custody arrangements with her ex-husband, one of the people who had alerted police to her cancer scam.

As part of that sentence, she must write letters of apology to both the pediatrician, Dr. Paul Wontroski, and her ex-husband, Robert Smith.

In November 2019, Cornell made headlines when it was announced that she had pretended to have cancer, and impersonated a doctor and nurse, in a scheme to steal thousands of dollars from donors on GoFundMe and Facebook. Through her social media pages, Smith claimed she was facing huge medical bills, travel costs and other payments related to child care and missed work during cancer treatment.

Cornell managed to raise more than $10,000 through her fundraisers which she deposited to her TD Bank accounts, investigators said.

That was until an acquaintance and her husband reported her false claims to the Uwchlan police during the summer. Smiths husband provided documents that she was covered under his insurance and he did not have any insurance records, statements or documents that indicated his wife was being treated for any form of cancer.

Police reviewed other documents and determined that Smith never received chemotherapy treatment.

According to the WEGO case, Smith told police that he had received a call from Cornell about their son, whom she said had been taken to his doctor at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia in King of Prussia to check him for bed bug bites.

Smith said that Cornell sent him a photograph of a bed bug that she said she found on their son, and said she had shown it to the doctor as well. She also sent a letter to Smith that appeared to have been written by the pediatrician, Wontroski, stating his findings about the apparent bites.

Smith told police that he became suspicious of Cornells account, and was able to find an exact replica of the bed bug photo she provided him with on a Google image search. When he spoke with Wontroski about the matter, the doctor told him he had not written the letter about the possible infestation.

Smith speculated that Cornell was retaliating against him because of previous custody disputes.

When Diamond checked with representatives at CHOP in King of Prussia, they told him that the letter that Cornell had sent to Smith with Wontroskis signature had not been written by him or anyone affiliated with the hospital. That representative provided the detective with a letter confirming that Cornells letter was fraudulent, according to the complaint.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

To contact Staff Writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

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Judge orders probation and treatment in cancer scam case - Daily Local News

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