If you are a regular reader you know that I have been vociferous in my distaste for people out to make a buck by stealing or other nefarious reasons. Stealing from the elderly, charities or other causes may be marginally worse than the outright theft of others, but all of it just makes society a little worse off – the universal energy a little more negative.
Here is a story that makes me sick (no pun intended).
The good news is she doesn't have cancer. The bad news is she faces criminal charges.
Criminal charges have been filed against a young woman who raised the sympathy of a community along with thousands of dollars in donations by claiming she was dying from cancer.
Police said that a three-month investigation found that Angie Gomez, 18, had no record of having leukemia, as she claimed while allegedly collecting about $17,000 in donations.
Gomez is accused of theft by deception over $1,500, a state jail felony.
Gomez had an infectious smile, a positive outlook and a tragic tale. Gomez was a senior at Horizon High School when her story unfolded earlier this year. She graduated in June.
Gomez told a tale of having leukemia as a child and was now fighting a fatal resurgence of the cancer. She told classmates that doctors in January had given her six months to live. Classmates and teachers at Horizon High School rallied around her and held fundraisers, and then she was invited to speak at other schools.
Several people helped Gomez create the Achieve the Dream Foundation to help families of children with leukemia. Donations poured in.
There was even a donated Angie's Dream Prom for Gomez because she claimed she had missed her high school's prom while undergoing medical treatment.
"The doctors are telling me to prepare myself and to start planning for what's about to come," Gomez said in a March interview after the El Paso Times was contacted by her teachers. "They think the worst is coming, when you start to feel sick and you can't move. I think they're all crazy."
Gomez said the leukemia was first diagnosed when she was 2. She claimed she had been a patient at a children's hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
"When you grow up in a hospital, that's just what you're used to," Gomez said in convincing fashion. "You see other kids bald, you see other kids sick -- that's just what life is like. That was just normal for me."
Classmates said that Gomez often looked frail and sickly and that it was not uncommon for her to miss school, supposedly because she was having treatments. Once in a meeting at another school, she appeared to nearly faint and was helped to keep standing.
Adult friends had even driven Gomez to a hospital supposedly for a doctor's appointment, though they dropped her off and did not accompany her inside.
Where Are Her Parents For Crying Out Loud?
Her parents were absent during public appearances. She told a reporter she had a fight with them.
Police started investigating Gomez after receiving a complaint that the young woman didn't appear ill.
After the investigation began, some former classmates admitted they had suspicions that Gomez wasn't really ill but did not speak up because they did not want to be appear rude.
Police said investigators spoke to Gomez and her mother, who apparently was not aware of the extent of Gomez's fundraising efforts and was being told a different story by her daughter. The mother believed Gomez was trying to straighten out the matter.
Detectives subpoenaed the bank records of the Achieve the Dream Foundation. Investigators estimate Gomez received $17,000 from fundraisers, checks, gift cards and in-kind donations. The foundation's website is no longer online.
Wow – what a piece of work – and still so young. Good Lord!