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Police: Parents faked child's cancer to raise money, arranged visit with Syracuse football team

A couple from a small town in New York lied about their son having cancer in order to raise money online and later arranged a visit for the boy with the Syracuse football team, the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office told Syracuse.com.

Jolene M. LaFrance and Martin D. LaFrance of Port Byron, New York told the public that their son CJ LaFrance, was battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma and set up a GoGundMe page in 2017 that raised $3,334 for alleged medical costs. Police said CJ believed he had cancer, but it’s not clear what he was told about its severity. 

Per the fundraising page:

 CJ was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma initially, if that isn’t bad enough they were just given the news that he has a malignant tumor in his abdomen, & gastroperisis. CJ has to go to the children’s hospital several times a week for treatments which has forced both Jolene and Marty to take a leave of absence from work. They have been out of work since March leaving them with no income. Any funds raised will go towards medical expenses, gas for travel, and anything else related to this difficult time!

His family also arranged for nine-year-old CJ to visit the Syracuse football team, where he met players, participated in a practice and bonded with director of player development and two-time cancer survivor Roy Witke, according to the report.

“It was a 10-out-of-10 night,” CJ’s uncle, Justin Roe told Syracuse.com after the August practice. “The staff is just so amazing, especially with it being the second practice (of preseason camp). Just taking the time, every coach in the middle of doing drills, to come over and chat with him. It blew my expectations away.”

After a four-month investigation spurred by a tip, the sheriff’s office concluded “conclusively” that CJ never had cancer. 

Martin and Jolene, both 35, were charged with scheming to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child on Friday. They are scheduled to be arraigned on May 16.

No other family members, including Roe, are believed to be involved in the scheme, police said.

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