Miami County woman gets 9 months for cancer scam

TROY – A Covington woman police said swindled money from people by falsely telling them she had breast cancer — including one victim she had accompany her to a funeral home to make arrangements — was sentenced Monday to nine months in prison.

Melissa A. Smith, 49, pleaded guilty in July to two felony counts of theft involving money she obtained from an elderly Covington man and a Piqua woman. Smith’s address also is listed as Gettysburg on some court records.

Janna Parker, assistant Miami County prosecutor, said she has seen bad behavior in more than a dozen years as a prosecutor, but few deeds, if any, topped Smith’s.

“It is such depraved conduct,” Parker said before Smith was sentenced by Judge Christopher Gee in Common Pleas Court.

Defense lawyer Steve King said Smith now is being treated for a previously undiagnosed bipolar condition.

Smith said she wanted “to take care of the people I hurt, and make it right,” then move on.

Gee reviewed Smith’s previous criminal record, including convictions for passing bad checks and disorderly conduct in the 1990s before additional convictions beginning in 2012 for theft, identity fraud and another theft case in which she told the victim she had cancer.

One victim told police in a written statement that Smith told her she had stage four cancer and only a few months to live. She asked for money for medications and then for living expenses, claiming she no longer was able to work. The woman said Smith approached her family and others, including cancer survivors, asking for advice and money.

“My family and friends went as far as to throw her a Christmas/birthday party at my home in November because she told us she would not live till Christmas,” the victim wrote.

She said she accompanied Smith to the funeral home, at her request.

Gee said Smith had an “ability to prey on the elderly and people with good intentions.”

“You have been able to seek them out and take advantage of them” emotionally as well as financially, he said.

Smith was ordered to make restitution of $6,473 to one victim and $410 to a second victim. She was given credit for 58 days spent in jail.

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