On April 15, 2013 at 2:49 P.M., a bomb goes off during the Boston Marathon. Screams erupt from the crowd as people fall to the ground. The fear is almost tangible as people run, trying to find a safe place or locate their loved ones. 12 seconds later, another bomb goes off. People are sprawled across the streets as blood drips into the gutters.
The Boston Bombings, which killed three and injured 264 others, were one of the darkest brushes with terrorism that America has ever experienced. For months, the nation tried to heal. Victims and their families received an outpour of support from the rest of the nation and from the world as a whole.
Most people could not imagine being present during the attacks or worse — being injured by the bombs.
However, that’s exactly what one woman did. Joanna Leigh, 41, of the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, falsely claimed that she was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. She attended a viewing party for the marathon but left before the bombs exploded. Two weeks after the bombings, she claimed injury and began to seek treatment. Leigh claimed her injuries were a result of running back to the blast site to help the wounded. Her supposed injuries included traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, vision loss and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“At every step, she lied and withheld information to generate money, services and sympathy for herself,” Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said. “While others were asking how they could help, she was asking how she could benefit.”
On Friday, she pleaded guilty to all charges and admitted that she purposely lied to receive nearly $40,000 from public agencies and private donors. Her charges include five counts of larceny by false pretenses and one count of making a false claim to a government agency.
Not only did Leigh use a tragic event for her own benefit, her efforts to receive more and more money from organizations established to aid the Boston Marathon Bombing victims such as One Fund, prevented such organizations from assisting victims that are in actual need of the money and resources.
The president of One Fund, James D. Gallagher, released a statement that detailed the amount of effort and volunteer personnel that needed to attend to Leigh and how it interfered with their work with hundreds of victims in the community who deeply suffered as a result of the bombings.
Image: Jamaica Plain News