A Central New York couple reportedly fabricated a story about their son having cancer, according to the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office.
The couple, Martin and Jolene LaFrance, solicited about $3,000 in fund for their son’s recover and a visit with the Syracuse University football team.
According to a report from Syracuse.com, the couple faked the story of their son, CJ LaFrance, having Hodgkin lymphoma, operating a GoFundMe page that received $3,334 in donations.
In August 2017, the family was invited to attend a Syracuse football practice and a then 9-year old CJ met with the student-athletes and even played catch with Syracuse wide receiver Ervin Philips and linebacker Kielan Whitner.
Roy Wittke, Syracuse’s director of player personnel, also bonded with CJ.
CJ’s uncle also played a role in the fabrication saying that CJ’s cancer had been upgraded to Stage 3 and that he had undergone both radiation and surgery, after his visit to Syracuse.
An investigation by the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office “conclusively” learned that the boy had never been diagnosed with cancer. Martin and Jolene LaFrance were charged with scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child, and will appear in court on May 16 to be arraigned.
“The LaFrance Family has violated GoFundMe’s terms of service, and all donors will receive a refund,” GoFundMe said in a statement. “Additionally, they have been banned from our platform. It’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. Additionally, we are working with law enforcement on their investigation.”