- A 21-year-old woman was hooked on heroin when she raised thousands of dollars by falsely claiming she had cancer, prosecutors and her attorney said yesterday.
Brittany Ozarowski befriended business owners and others in her community, telling them a tale about undergoing cancer treatments, prosecutors said. Because she was a heroin addict, no one seemed to question her 80-pound appearance as she hobbled on a cane going from store to store leaving donation jars, they said.
Ozarowski pleaded guilty Monday in Suffolk County Court to a 24-count indictment charging her with grand larceny, forgery and other crimes, district attorney's office spokesman Robert Clifford said.
Although Ozarowski could have faced a sentence of up to seven years in prison, Judge John Iliou said he would sentence the woman to a drug-treatment program for up to two years plus an additional year's probation. Ozarowski, who's from Miller Place, 60 miles east of New York City, also will be required to pay more than $10,000 in restitution.
Her attorney, George Duncan, said it's "an appropriate sentence given the nature of her offenses, which were morally reprehensible. . . . Her acceptance into a judicial diversion program is exactly what she needs," Duncan said.
Duncan added that Ozarowski, who was arrested in April, is no longer using heroin and "looks like a totally different person. She's terribly remorseful. She's horrified and embarrassed."
Prosecutors said Ozarowski began befriending business owners and other people in her community in March 2012 and telling them about fighting cancer. Some business owners were so taken by her plight that they organized community fundraisers for her benefit. There is no way of knowing how much money Ozarowski pocketed in the scam because so many of the donations were in cash, prosecutors said.