The 23-year-old Westchester County newlywed who allegedly faked cancer to get her dream wedding for free is sticking to her story. Jessica Vega tells the Daily News that a doctor at a Bronx clinic told her in February that she has terminal leukemia, and that she hasn't needed chemo to fight her cancer, just "water, the right foods and exercise." She insists she has cancer, but couldn't show the News any immediate proof from her doctor. ("Maybe tomorrow," she told the tabloid.)
Vega claims that her estranged husband, Michael O'Connell, is trying to get back at her because they're going through a nasty divorce and fighting for custody of their 1-year-old daughter. But O'Connell says Vega's pants are on fire, and he feels like a "jackass" for believing her. Also feeling betrayed are the many local merchants and community members who donated money and services to make Vega's wedding one to remember.
"It is despicable what she did and how we were conned by her," says photographer Joel Schreibma, who donated his services to the couple, giving them a portfolio of wedding photos worth over $1,000 for free. He's contacted the Ulster County District Attorney and plans to file charges, telling the Times Herald-Record, "I'm going after her." Feeling even worse is Tammy Purdy, the general manager of the Comfort Inn of Newburgh, who left rose petals, a bottle of Ed Hardy Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries inside a comped honeymoon suite that usually goes for $200 a night. "We wanted them to be wowed," Purdy tells the News. "My husband died of cancer, so it became very personal for me."