Brittany Ozarowski pleads guilty in cancer scam
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A drug addict who pretended to have several cancers is expected to be sentenced to drug treatment next Monday for scamming sympathetic people out of money so she could buy heroin.
Brittany Ozarowski, 22, of Medford, pleaded guilty Monday to the entire 24-count indictment filed against her in April, including first-degree scheme to defraud, third-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, prosecutors said.
She was accused of taking in more than $10,000 by putting donation jars inside at least 25 businesses, persuading sympathizers to hold fundraisers and setting up a donation-seeking Facebook page. During her two-year scam, her stories of cancer changed -- sometimes it was brain cancer, other times bone, or it might be both ovarian and stomach cancer.
Pleading guilty to the entire indictment allowed her attorney to negotiate a deal with the judge for drug treatment -- counter to prosecutors' call for prison time.
Pending the probation department's report, Suffolk County Court Judge John Iliou agreed to place Ozarowski in the "judicial diversion program," with two years of drug treatment, one inpatient and one outpatient with community service, said Robert Clifford, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office. Ozarowski will be on probation and do community service for the third year, and she will have to pay more than $10,000 in restitution, he said.
If she fails treatment or probation, Ozarowski will be imprisoned for up to 3 years on the felony counts and 1 year on the misdemeanor counts.
Prosecutors had asked for up to 7 years of prison time.
"This office, considering the scope of her crime, the number of people she deceived and the repeated, willful deception she engaged in, strongly believes incarceration in an upstate correctional facility for up to seven years isa fair and just disposition," Clifford said in a statement.
Prosecutors had said Ozarowski would stand outside Suffolk supermarkets with donation jars. She was arrested April 1 in front of one holding a plastic jar that said "Please help me with my medical bills for bone and brain cancer," prosecutors said.
Ozarowski had posted a picture of herself in wheelchair on her Facebook page and wrote about her severe injuries from a March 2011 car crash. Prosecutors said she was high on drugs when she crashed.
At the time of Ozarowski's arrest, her grandmother had recently sold her Selden house and gave more than $100,000 for cancer treatment. Her father, Thomas McDermott, of Selden, told investigators he depleted his retirement account to help her, authorities said.
Ozarowski's attorney did not return calls Wednesday afternoon.