Victims speak out after woman fakes cancer to benefit off f

Yuma

Victims speak out after woman fakes cancer to benefit off fundraisers

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YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) – The recent story of a Yuma woman sentenced to jail for faking ovarian cancer and benefiting off of fundraisers has caused outrage from the community.

Today, one woman who stood by P. Kody Grode is speaking out.

Gina Tolomei says now that justice has been served, the community shouldn't back down from helping those who do need help.

Tolomei says she was betrayed by her best friend Kody Grode.

Tolomei says for almost a year, Grode pretended to have stage three ovarian cancer, until one day she moved out of the condo their shared unannounced.

"My mom went and talked to her father and she was like, ‘Look, your daughter owes us money and I know she's going through a tough time with cancer,' ‘And he was like what?! She doesn't have cancer.'"

Tolomei's mother then went straight to the sheriff's office to file a report in February.

In March, deputies arrested Grode for fraud and theft.

During the time Grode faked having cancer, the Tolomei family was also dealing with a loved one battling the deadly disease.

"I was terrified of losing my grandpa, which I did, and I was terrified of losing my best friend, which in the end I lost her anyways."

Tolomei says Grode would use her grandfather's stories and those of others to keep her lies going.

She says her grandpa even have Grode advice on how to fight through it.

"Tthey had a connection and he believed her... So seeing her lie to my grandpa who is now not with us because of cancer; that's what angers me the most."

The Tolomei family even held a fundraiser for Grode and still can't grasp why she did it.

In June, Grode took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to theft.

On Friday, Tolomei says justice was served when Judge Maria Elena Cruz sentenced Grode to 90 days in jail followed by probation and community service.

"I'm glad she got jail time. She needs to sit in there and think about what she did to everybody."

Tolomei says Grode may have put distrust in the minds of others, but this shouldn't impact those who really do need the support of the community.

"Cancer is not a joke, and there's people that need the help and need the money," Tolomei said. It's just one person unfortunately."

Tolomei hopes Grode does community service where she would have to care for cancer patients so she can see how serious her actions were, and have a better understanding of those fighting cancer every day.

 

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