When Your Wife Fakes Cancer For Free Swag

Ugh. But is it grounds for divorce? One upstate New York man certainly thinks so! Although it's a bit more complicated than that.

Michael O'Connell, a 23-year-old construction worker, met Jessica Vega in 2008 when they were both students at Manhattan's Institute of Culinary Education. The couple got together, had a daughter, Ava, and started planning a wedding. It's unclear at what point Vega revealed that she had terminal leukemia, but as a result of her illness, local businesses donated the wedding gown, the rings, the $4,000 bar tab and an Aruba honeymoon. The heartwarming tale was recounted in the local Times Herald Record. Vega claimed at the time that she had less than a year to live.

Vega allegedly produced a phony letter from the cancer specialist; O'Connell says he "fell for it" as well as her claim that she was keeping the physical letter from him to spare him pain. Vega, meanwhile, now says the letter "may have been mistaken." The clinic in question, allegedly, says Vega was never a patient.

O'Connell, who has filed for divorce (New York's now the last state to go no-fault, but presumably he would have had a case even so) is now seeking custody, but Vega claims that he was abusive. And, indeed, O'Connell readily admits that, upon learning of the ruse, he "slapped the fire" out of his wife, and once bit her elbow, at which time he was arrested. He says both incidents arose out of self-defense.

In other words, it's a thoroughly depressing story, and Vega's friend's contention that "she still refuses to tell the truth," is more troubling than infuriating. One hopes there will be psychiatric evaluations involved. And it's hard not to agree with the jeweler who donated the couple's rings when she tells the Daily News, "It's sad, it's just sad...We don't feel duped, or betrayed, we just feel sad."

Newlywed Man To Divorce Wife He Claims Faked Leukemia To Score Free Dress And Honeymoon
[NY Daily News]
Bride's 'Till Death Do Us Part' Story Was False, Husband Says
[Times Herald Record]
Strangers Step In To Offer Wedding For Terminally Ill Bride [Times Herald Record]
[ Image via Times Herald-Record]