JP woman charged with defrauding Marathon fund

A Jamaica Plain woman is facing fraud charges after allegedly pretending to be a Boston Marathon bombing victim and collecting more than $40,000 in aid, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Joanna Leigh, 41, claims she suffered a traumatic brain injury whose symptoms, while severe, took about two weeks after the 2013 bombing to materialize. In previous interviews with such media as DigBoston, Leigh claimed that the police and FBI were harassing her as she sought help for the injury.

But prosecutors say that, while Leigh indeed attended the marathon, she “was not injured by the bombing.” They accuse her of fraudulently obtaining money from a variety of sources, including $8,000 from the One Fund set up to aid marathon bombing victims; $1,700 from school students; $9,000 from an online fundraiser they allege she orchestrated to appear to be operated by someone else; and $18,000 from the state Victims of Violent Crime Compensation fund.

Leigh was arraigned on March 10 in Suffolk County Superior Court on five counts of larceny over $250 by false pretense and one count of making a false claim to a government agency. She was released on her own recognizance and is slated to return to court May 7, according to the DA’s Office.

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