Cayuga County parents were sentenced to probation Thursday for faking their son’s cancer in 2017 as part of a scheme that raised nearly $4,000.
Jolene and Martin LaFrance, formerly of Port Byron and now Auburn residents, were hosting a garage sale in July 2017 when a woman approached them and offered to set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for their son, CJ, then 9, who the LaFrances said was diagnosed with cancer that spring. The woman was the mother of one of CJ’s friends.
The LaFrances, both 36, allowed her to create the fundraiser, which raised more than $3,900 from about 50 people. The problem was CJ never had cancer.
The couple was arrested last May and each charged with first-degree scheme to defraud, a class E felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor, after a Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office investigation determined their son never had cancer and the fundraising effort was a scam.
The couple represented to CJ, his sibling, school and friends that he had cancer. They also made no efforts to stop the fundraising campaign. They each pleaded guilty to their crimes in January.