Joanna Leigh, the Boston Marathon victim who turned out to be a scammer and not an actual victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, garnered $40,000 from various charities. On Friday, Joanna Leigh’s Boston Marathon victim scam came to an end when Suffolk Superior Court Judge Peter Krupp sentenced her to three years of probation.
As reported by CNN on November 14, the prosecutor in Joanna Leigh’s Boston Marathon victim scam had asked for a prison sentence of three years after Leigh pleaded guilty to the crime, but Judge Krupp sentenced Leigh to one year in prison which he then suspended to three years of probation. In addition to her probation, Leigh was also ordered to pay full restitution, to perform 300 hours of community service, and to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Joanna Leigh was attending a viewing party for the Boston Marathon but had already left the area at the time the bombs exploded. Two weeks after the bombing, Leigh claimed that she was a Boston Marathon victim and that she had sustained traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, vision loss and post-traumatic stress disorder.
After “an aggressive and public campaign” for herself, Leigh received about $18,000 in cash and services through the Massachusetts Victims of Violent Crime Compensation program, a $8,000 payment from One Fund Boston, about $9,350 through a GoFundMe page which she created using another person’s name, and $1,850 from a student-run fundraiser at the Mildred Avenue Middle School in Mattapan.
Joanna Leigh’s Boston Marathon “victim” scam came to light when enough was not enough and the 41-year-old Massachusetts woman kept asking for more money and more personal attention from the charities as well as local and national media news outlets. All the while, her stories about the Marathon Bombing event became different and contradictory, leading Boston Police and Suffolk County investigators to review surveillance videos of the bombings and witness testimonies. An examination of Leigh’s financial and medical records showed that her cosmetic dermatology treatment for facial redness (an additional $900) had actually already occurred before the bombings.
“The president of the One Fund, James D. Gallagher, released a victim impact statement in which he emphasized the amount of effort and volunteer personnel needed to attend to Leigh, which interfered with their work with hundreds of people in the community who actually suffered grievously as a result of the marathon bombings.”
“At every step, she lied and withheld information to generate money, services and sympathy for herself,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley. “While others were asking how they could help, she was asking how she could benefit.”
Joanna Leigh’s Boston Marathon victim scam sentence of three years of probation was welcomed by Leigh’s defense attorney, Norman Zalkind, who said that “his client did suffer from PTSD.” Zalkind added that “Leigh will immediately pay back the money she received using her mother’s savings.”