The holiday season tends to have a way of making people feel more open and generous. Whether donations are going to the little red buckets beside bell-ringing Santas, church fundraisers for Christmas dinners, or to Toys for Tots programs, people seem to be all the more willing to give a little extra to their fellow humans when Christmas time rolls around. This is a wonderful thing, but sometimes, people like to take advantage of other's generosity. Brittany Ozarowski is one such person.
Brittany Ozarowski lived in Miller's Place, New York, which is only sixty miles away from the Big Apple. Around March of 2012, Ozarowski began to frequent local businesses, telling the owners that she had cancer, and leaving donation jars in their places of business. Many of these business owners took special interest in Ozwarski, offering help in the form of hosting fundraisers and charity benefits. Ozarowski also plead with family members, friends, and other community figures, who all united in a front to save the 21-year-old woman.
Business started to get fishy, however, when a few donors began to notice the lack of effect that cancer and chemotherapy had on Ozarowski. One person offered to set her up with a neurologist at Stony Brook Medical Center for cancer treatments, but she never showed up for the appointments. When questioned as to why her hair was not falling out, she claimed that she was taking "special vitamins." These odd happenings eventually lead to suspicious donors going to the police, who in turn arrested Ozarowski.
Ozarowski plead guilty to a 24-count indictment on Monday, which accused her of grand larceny, forgery and other crimes. The young woman admitted to lying about her status as a cancer victim, and was using the money she gathered from the generosity of her community to buy drugs, specifically heroin. She was found guilty on Wednesday, and the judge sentenced her to up to two years in a drug treatment program, with up to one additional year of probation. She will also be required to pay more than $10,000 in restitution to the kind folks that she conned.
Unfortunately, stories such as those that come from cases like Ozarowski's tend to discourage people from giving, and to a point, this is justified. This writer urges people to donate whatever they are able to, however, despite the deception that can go on.[Image courtesy of this YouTube video.]