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    Cancer scam stuns N.Y. community

    Ozarowski looked frail and gaunt.
    Ozarowski looked frail and gaunt.

    MILLER PLACE, N.Y. — Prosecutors allege that a 21-year-old resident of this middle-class Long Island suburban community faked a bout with cancer and scammed people out of thousands of dollars to feed a growing addiction to heroin.

    Those who took one look at Brittany Ozarowski had no reason to doubt she was battling cancer. Her face was drawn and gaunt. She weighed a mere 80 pounds, hobbled gingerly on a cane, and complained of the toll chemotherapy and radiation treatments were taking.

    Neighbors and friends put donation jars on store counters, pulled cash out of their pockets, and organized fund-raisers. Ozarowski also had a website showing her in a wheelchair next to the plea: ‘‘Help Save My Life.’’


    But then people began to wonder: Why didn’t she lose her hair after chemotherapy? Why didn’t she show up for a free exam at a neurologist? Why did she hang up when a cancer charity offered $10,000 in treatments paid directly to a hospital? ‘‘There was no cancer, no chemotherapy or radiation,’’ Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said. ‘‘All there was was heroin and more heroin.’’

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    Prosecutors say there is no way of knowing how much Ozarowski pocketed because many of the donations were in cash.

    Prosecutors say she has a history of drug arrests dating to 2010. Her attorney, George Duncan, said if the allegations of a drug problem are true, Ozarowski needs help or rehabilitation.

    Associated Press