Old habits die hard. In this case, a Californian woman looked to pull off the ultimate con but came up a step too short.
In November 2019, Ashleigh Lynn Chavez, 37, pleaded guilty after she embezzled more than $160,000 from a former employer. The court allowed Chavez to remain out of custody before her sentencing and clearly, she put in some extra conniving during that time.
On the night of her sentencing, Chavez conveniently received a doctor’s note that falsely claimed she had uterine cancer. The note had been crafted by Chavez herself and forged with her doctor’s signature. Chavez’s lawyer, who had no way of telling if the note was fake, submitted the note to the court and asked for leniency.
On March 31, 2021, the court sentenced Chavez to 12 months and a day in federal prison. The doctor’s note wasn’t all for nothing though, as the court allowed her to stay out of jail for three additional months so she could get medical treatment for her cancer diagnosis.
With three extra months to take her ultimate con a step further, Chavez hired a new lawyer. Her new attorney started receiving notes from two doctors from the San Diego area, which he continued to submit to the courts.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), one of the forged notes read, “Ashleigh has limitations due to uterine cancer and future need for radiation.” Others also claimed she didn’t have long left and that surgery might be an option.
Another note read, “A year in prison could be a death sentence for my patient… I highly recommend the chance to allow home confinement or anything else that you deem appropriate rather than a year in prison.”
With the doctor’s notes suggesting other sentencing options and Chavez’s worsening condition, the judges reached out to her doctors about their recommendations and ongoing treatments. Boy, were they in for a surprise.
Neither doctor had anything to do with Chavez’s scam. Only one of the doctors claimed that Chavez had been a patient, but definitely hadn’t diagnosed her with cancer. And the second had never even heard of her before.
That’s when the ultimate con came crumbling down. On April 1, 2022, Chavez plead guilty to the new charges of obstructing justice. Now, along with her original sentence, Chavez is facing an additional 10 years in prison.
“The defendant went to great lengths to avoid reporting to prison for her prior fraud conviction by faking doctor’s notes claiming she had cancer – an insult to cancer patients everywhere,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy.
Chavez is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27, 2022, with a longer prison sentence soon to follow.