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Brittany Ozarowski, convicted in cancer scam, sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison after failing drug treatment program

Brittany Ozarowski, 21, appears in court in Central

Brittany Ozarowski, 21, appears in court in Central Islip. The Medford woman, who Suffolk prosecutors said pretended to have cancer to solicit money from a long list of merchants and sympathizers, was arraigned on April 11, 2013. Credit: Ed Betz

A Medford drug addict who pretended to have cancer to raise money for her heroin habit was sentenced Monday to 1 to 3 years in prison after she failed a court-mandated drug treatment program.

Brittany Ozarowski, 24, pleaded guilty in December 2013 to a 24-count indictment that included charges of third-degree grand larceny and second-degree forgery.

Over the objections of the Suffolk district attorney's office, she was referred to the drug court and could have avoided prison time if she had completed a treatment program. Prosecutors sought a sentence then of 21/3 to 7 years in prison.

But after she got a violation in the program for smoking a cigarette, she stopped coming to court and eventually was picked up on an arrest warrant, said her attorney, George Duncan of Central Islip.

Despite her failure to complete the program and her prison sentence, Duncan said the program helped her.

"The program works, and it saved her life," Duncan said outside court. "She didn't get the most out of it, but she got something. It's still a success, because she's still here with us."

Ozarowski had admitted raising more than $10,000 by putting donation jars in dozens of businesses, persuading people to hold fundraisers and setting up a Facebook page, all supposedly to raise money for cancer treatment. During her two-year scam, the type of cancer she said she had varied. At different times she claimed to have brain cancer, bone cancer or both ovarian and stomach cancer.

Instead of cancer, what she really had was a heroin addiction.

In court Monday, state Supreme Court Justice Martin Efman sentenced Ozarowski to 1 to 3 years, which had been the negotiated sentence if she didn't complete drug treatment.

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