Jamaica Plain Woman Charged With Bilking Bombing Fund Pleads Not Guilty

Screen shot of GoFundMe page for Joanna Leigh

GoFundMe.com

Screen shot of GoFundMe page for Joanna Leigh

Joanna Leigh, 41, pleaded not guilty to five counts of larceny and one count of making a false claim to a government agency on Monday. Prosecutors allege the Jamaica Plain woman raked in nearly $40,000 in cash and services by faking injury in the Boston Marathon bombings.

The judge released Leigh without bail, but ordered her to give up her passport, be booked by Boston Police and not travel out of the region without telling the court.

Last week she told the Globe the charges are a result of her public criticism of the One Fund.

Leigh claims to have run toward the scene after hearing the first bomb, but investigators say she was actually blocks away from the explosions. Leigh said she suffered brain damage, hearing loss and is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This summer, the JP resident’s new service dog went missing, sparking a hunt that was among our most-read stories of the year.

Prosecutors say she cheated people out of money in several ways, including a GoFundMe page named “Joanna Leigh – Boston Hero” that raised more than $9,000. The page now appears to have been taken down, but there’s a screen grab above. While the page was written in the third person, prosecutors allege it was written and kept up from Leigh’s personal email address.

“At a time when most people were asking how they could help, others were wondering how they could benefit,” Suffolk County District Attorney said in a press release. “Every dollar at issue in this case was taken from someone who truly deserved it.”

Leigh’s lawyer told the Globe his client wanted to “let the jury decide.”

Leigh told the Washington Post she was about 10 feet away from the second bomb when it exploded.

Prosecutors and police say Leigh was at the Marathon that day, but was not injured.

The One Fund paid Leigh $8,000, the going rate for victims who received only outpatient treatment. Leigh asked for a payout of $2 million but refused to let the charity see her medical records, prosecutors said.