BOSTON (CBS) – A Jamaica Plain woman who claimed to be a Boston Marathon bombing victim has been indicted for fraud. Authorities say 41-year-old Joanna Leigh received nearly $40,000 in benefits, including money from the One Fund and a local school.
“I saw first-hand the injuries true victims suffered on that day,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. “Ms. Leigh saw an opportunity to take advantage of kind-hearted individuals who wanted to help those victims.”
Leigh is charged with five counts of larceny over $250 by false pretense and one count of making a false claim to a government agency.
“At a time when most people were asking how they could help, others were wondering how they could benefit,” Suffolk County DA Dan Conley said. “Every dollar at issue in this case was taken from someone who truly deserved it.”
An investigation found that Leigh was at the marathon on April 15, 2013 but was not injured in the bombing.
Leigh received an $8,000 payment from the One Fund. She sought more than $2 million, but refused to release her medical records.
She accepted more than $1,700 raised by students and faculty at a Mattapan middle school and more than $9,000 in contributions from an online fundraiser. Authorities say the fundraising website refers to Leigh in the third person but evidence suggests it was created, maintained, and updated using her email address.
Evidence also suggests that Leigh received free dermatology services through a practice that offered treatment at no cost to bombing victims. Authorities say most other victims were treated for scarring, but she sought and received treatment for facial redness, a condition which she had been treated for prior to the bombing.
Leigh also accepted more than $18,000 in benefits from the state’s Victims of Violent Crime Compensation Fund.
The indictments are based on a “painstaking examination” of medical records, surveillance video and contradictory stories she told to news outlets.
WBZ-TV interviewed Leigh in 2014 after her service dog ran away from her Jamaica Plain home.
She will be arraigned on Monday.