Brittany Ozarowski admitted fake cancer scam, says prosecutor
The Medford woman accused of supporting her heroin habit by pretending to be cancer-ridden -- soliciting more than $10,000 from sympathizers -- has admitted to "every element" of the scheme, a Suffolk prosecutor said Thursday.
Brittany Ozarowski, 21, "admitted to taking the money from people; she admitted she does not have cancer . . . and she's apologetic," Assistant District Attorney Michelle Pitman said in First District Court.
Pitman told the judge: "This defendant stole money from the most vulnerable people in our society: the sick, people suffering from cancer."
Ozarowski, eyes downcast, said nothing as she was led into the Central Islip courtroom Thursday morning.
Defense attorney George Duncan, of Hauppauge, entered not guilty pleas for his client and said she has no criminal record. Judge Fernando Camacho ordered her held on $75,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond.
During the alleged two-year scam, Ozarowski told merchants, nonprofits, shoppers -- even her own family -- that she needed money to pay for lifesaving treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, authorities said.
At least two fundraisers, including one organized by a cancer survivor, were held. Delis and pizzerias were among at least 25 Long Island businesses that granted her space for cash donation jars, authorities said.
Ozarowski's own family may have also been deceived. Her grandmother recently sold her Selden house and gave more than $100,000 to Ozarowski, and her father, Thomas McDermott of Selden, told investigators he depleted his retirement account to help her, according to authorities.
Pitman said Suffolk police investigating the crash found hypodermic needles on Ozarowski, who was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs. That is one of four drug-related cases currently pending against Ozarowski, the prosecutor said.
A 24-count indictment unsealed Wednesday charges her with grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing and scheme to defraud. She is also accused of forging doctor's notes to get out of court dates.
With Patricia Kitchen