LOGAN — A Nibley woman has been charged with nine felonies for allegedly defrauding a community in person and online for a terminal cancer she didn’t have, according to court documents.
26-year-old Lesley Elizabeth Jensen was charged with a total of five counts of communications fraud, a second-degree felony, and four counts of forgery, a third-degree felony.
The founder of Cache Valley For Hope Cancer Foundation, set up a GoFundMe.com fundraising account on Nov. 3 that stated Jensen had stage 4 glioblastoma brain cancer, according to the website posting. As of Friday afternoon the website had raised more than $3,000 and was still accepting donations.
The website said Jensen had been receiving radiation treatment for the past two months and was no longer able to work. The single mother posed in the picture with her 6-year-old daughter.
Jensen previously worked at Cafe Sabor. Her former employers held a benefit dinner event where they raised more than $16,500 for Jensen and her daughter. Waiters and waitresses from the Mexican restaurant in Logan donated their tips for the night to Jensen, according to the company’s Facebook post.
Criminal charges say the alleged ruse went on from Aug. 1 to Nov. 26 until the fraud was reported. Logan police were tipped off when a person told their victim’s advocate at 1st District Court in Logan that they were unsure whether Jensen’s fundraisers were legitimate.
“It was a ’I wonder if this is real, it doesn’t look like it to me,’ type of thing,” Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen told the Standard-Examiner.
On Dec. 4, a warrant for Jensen’s arrest stated bail would be set at $50,000, once she is booked into the Cache County Jail. She currently is being treated at Logan Region Hospital. Court records indicate that deputies with the Cache County sheriff’s office found Jensen on Dec. 3 “unresponsive after an apparent suicide attempt.”
She knew she was being investigated at the time of the suicide attempt, Chief Jensen said.
Cache County Attorney James Swink says she will be arrested once she’s released. Chief Jensen said he is unsure of the suspect’s current medical condition.
Swink isn’t yet certain how much Jensen raised but expects it to be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Chief Jensen said more charges may be filed as additional victims come forward. Detectives want to get in touch with as many victims as possible, he said. He asked those who made any contribution to Jensen to email Logan police at email@example.com.
Lesley Jensen could not be reached for comment. Court filings did not list a defense attorney.
Here is a poster that was created for a benefit event for Jensen’s cancer treatment.
Reporter Ben Lockhart contributed to this story.