Canandaigua, N.Y. (13 WHAM -TV) - Melissa Jones, the Farmington woman accused of faking breast cancer, says she has been wrongly charged and wrongly portrayed by prosecutors, the media, and others.
"I will not only be found ‘not guilty’ but ‘innocent," she said in a letter read by her attorney outside Ontario County Court Wednesday morning.
"The words are hers, not mine," says Attorney Kevin McKain. "She asked me to read this statement."
"I did believe I had breast cancer," says her statement. "Apparently that diagnosis has now been found to be incorrect. I also have never pretended to have cancer. My belief that I had IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) was the result of the present of symptoms commonly associated with IBC and communications with medical personnel."
Jones went on to say she has received "constant harassment" that caused she and her husband to move from their Farmington home.
District Attorney Michael Tantillo says the facts show otherwise. "Investigators have repeatedly asked her to show medical documentation and the investigation would have stopped right there. She did not do that."
Jones has until October 19th to decide whether to take a plea bargain approved by a judge to plead guilty to all charges in exchange for a 1 2/3 to 5 year sentence. Her attorney says the case will go to trial.
Here is her full statement:
For over a year now I've stood accused of the very heinous act of pretending to suffer from the terrible disease of cancer. During this time I’ve watched and listened when people- including public officials, members of the media- have cast judgment on me and members of my family. I've been called an insult to cancer survivors, and deserving of the maximum sentence allowable under the law. My actions have been described as a travesty by Canandaigua Police Chief John Welch. District Attorney Michael Tantillo has told reporters quote - there is no reason to believe I have cancer.
The Kimberly and Beck radio show refers to me as the scam lady and a scam artist. In addition to giving out my home address to listeners. Ultimately due to the constant scrutiny and harassment my husband and I were forced to move from our home. By making this statement today - it is my sincere hope that further judgment will be withheld while I'm given the opportunity to defend myself before a jury of my peers. I have always understood that all defendants were presumed innocent until proven guilty. I ask only be afforded that same presumption
God willing - with the able assistance of my attorney Kevin McKain and the continued support of family and friends who have been by my side throughout this nightmare - I will not only be found not guilty - but innocent! In the meantime while I cannot possibly respond to every accusation, rumor and speculation surrounding this matter, I will now offer the following:
I did believe that I was diagnosed with cancer. Apparently that diagnosis has now been found to be incorrect. I also have never pretended to have cancer. The wonderful and generous outpouring of support I received has been the result of an honest and reasonable belief that I had a rare form of cancer called inflammatory breast cancer of IBC. My belief that I had IBC was the result of the present of symptoms commonly associated with IBC and communications with medical personnel.
I did not seek to gain benefits including donations as the result of my apparent diagnosis. Nor did I ask anyone to hold fund raisers on my behalf. Contrary to media reports, law enforcement did not recover 20 thousand dollars from me. The proceeds in question were recovered from an unrelated third party whom coordinated a fundraiser on my behalf. I have never received those proceeds. The $20-thousand dollars that was posted as bail in this matter was obtained from family. I did not have the money to post my own bail.
My husband and I have not separated, we have not divorced, and my husband remains my most staunchest (sig) supporter. I did undergo two rounds of chemotherapy. As a result I lost most of my hair and ultimately was forced to cut it short to mask the loss. I did not shave my head as part of any scheme to simulate suffering from cancer.
At the advice of my attorney I will not personally make any further statements in this case regarding this matter until after trial or other disposition. I look forward to my day in court - I ask that you respect the rights of myself and my family who have remained by my side. Any further questions should be directed to my attorney.