Joanna Leigh, Boston Marathon victims fund critic, pleaded not guilty in Suffolk Superior to charges that she lied about suffering a traumatic brain injury during the 2013 explosions, according to The Inquisitr. She was arraigned on charges of larceny and making a false claim to a government agency.
The 41-year-old allegedly received nearly $40,000 from the One Fund Boston and other sources, according to District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office. But her attorney, Norman S. Zalkind, says that’s not the case.
“She’s pleading not guilty … We’ll let the jury decide.”
Joanna Leigh answered the Boston Marathon fraud charges by walking slowly into the courtroom wearing a black bubble jacket and sunglasses, clutching her mother’s arm and occasionally tearing up.
Leigh closed her eyes and said, “Not guilty,” when answering to the charges. Leigh was indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury on March 11 on five counts of grand larceny by false pretense in the Boston Marathon case.
“She’s a very fragile person … You have to understand that.”
Former mayor Thomas M. Menino and former governor Deval Patrick created the Boston fund to provide financial aid to Boston Marathon victims, according to International Business Times. It collected and distributed about $80 million in donations.
Joanna Leigh was awarded $8,000 from the Boston Marathon fund, but sought more than $2 million and allegedly refused to provide medical records to support her claim.
She was one of the most outspoken critics of the fund, claiming she had been unfairly compensated.
Leigh told the press last week the charges were a result of her criticism.
Assistant District Attorney Greer Spatz did not seek to have Leigh held on bail, but asked that she report to booking and surrender her passport within seven days. Leigh is not allowed to travel outside of New England and New York during the duration of the case.
Joanna also allegedly received more than $18,000 from the state’s Victims of Violent Crime Compensation fund, $1,700 raised for her by children and faculty at a Mattapan middle school, and $9,000 from an online fund-raiser, Jake Wark, a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said.
According to prosecutors, investigators reviewed video surveillance, witness testimony, and medical and financial records and found that Leigh was at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, but that she was not injured.
Joanna Leigh is not the first person charged with trying to falsely claim money meant for Marathon victims, notes WCVB.
Brothers Branden Mattier and Domunique Grice were convicted in June 2014 of filing a claim on behalf of an aunt who died a decade earlier. Audrea Gause of Troy, N.Y., pleaded guilty to larceny charges last May. Iris Gamble of Linden, N.J., was charged in that state in 2013 with fraud and theft after the fund spotted irregularities in her application.