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article imageWoman accused of scamming fund set up for Boston bombing victims

By Megan Hamilton     Mar 30, 2015 in Crime
Jamaica Plain - A Massachusetts woman has been indicted for allegedly fraudulently obtaining $8,000 from a fund set up for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, and for obtaining thousands more from other fundraising sources, officials said on Thursday.
Investigators don't disagree that Joanna Leigh, 41, was at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 when two bombs exploded and killed three people as well as injuring more than 260, but they say she was not injured, the Boston Police Department said in a statement, Reuters reports.
A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Leigh earlier this month on five counts of alleged larceny and a charge of making a false claim to the government, the police department said.
The department said that Leigh received $8,000 from The One Fund Boston, which raised almost $80 million, and also said that she received a combined $28,700 from a middle school fundraiser, an online campaign, and the Massachusetts Victims of Violent Crime Compensation fund, Reuters reported, per the police statement.
Boston Police and Suffolk County investigators say that Leigh wasn't hurt, and said that she didn't claim injury or seek medical treatment until two weeks after the tragedy, CNN reports.
"When she did begin to make those claims, she billed herself as a 'hero' who ran toward the second blast," authorities said, per CNN.
For her part, Leigh says the indictment is retribution for her criticism of One Fund.
She as well as others say they weren't compensated properly by the fund due to the way it calculated payments. If an injury didn't require a person to spend the night in the hospital, he or she received $8,000. People who were hospitalized reportedly received $125,000 or more, according to CNN.
"I don't think this is about me; I think this is because I spoke out about The One Fund," she told the Boston Globe. "I think this is about killing the messenger. I went after the governor and the mayor's charity, and I didn't shut up about it, and I caused them trouble."
In a phone interview with the Globe on Thursday, Leigh said she intends to plead not guilty and that her injuries were real.
"I can't deal with this," she said. "They know I have permanent hearing aids. Why else did I get them? Like I like hanging out with them? Like I love to spend every day in doctor's offices? Like this is how I want to spend my life?"
Former Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino and former governor Deval Patrick established the One Fund to provide financial support to victims of the blasts and collected and disbursed about $80 million in donations.
Leigh sought more than $2 million from the fund, Jake Wark, a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said in a statement. He also said that she allegedly refused to release medical records to prove her claims, the Globe reports.
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