A Hanover county woman who faked having cancer and took charity payments from the public walked away from court Monday with no prison time. Martha Nicholas could have faced up to 40 years in prison for fraud but a judge said her mental illness caused her to lie. The judge sentenced her to 10 years for fraud but suspended all 10 and placed her on supervised probation.
She had been an advocate for helping people beat cancer but Martha Nicholas couldn't beat the 100 hours of community service a judge ordered for frauding welfare and the public.
"The Commonwealth is disappointed. We wanted some type of incarceration," said Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Adam Jurach.
Nicholas' mother testified saying their entire family really believed she had cancer four separate times. Prosecutors said not so fast.
"The evidence indicated she said she had surgery in 1992 or 1993. MCV has no record of that surgery ever taking place," Jurach added.
She received money from well-wishers. Monday, the judge said she must continue paying that money back as a condition of her escaping prison time. Nicholas had nothing to say when leaving the courtroom, but her husband says the sentence will help bring closure.
"She's going to continue getting better, keep seeing her doctor and keep being a great mother and great wife," Stephen Nicolas said.
A wife who made headlines for her sympathetic story that turned out to be anything but that.
"Who wants to go through this? It's embarrassing. Who wants to be on TV talking about this? She's a good woman. She just had a mental illness," he said.
Those closest to Nicholas say if she didn't have cancer, she had something. A family friend testified at one point "hugging her was like hugging a skeleton". Her husband says they even called for hospice care.
In the end, her defense got just what it asked for, leaving her family relieved. "I don't think I could go through losing my mom again," Nicholas' teenage daughter testified.
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