PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Woonsocket woman who claimed she had cancer has been ordered to repay more than $26,000 in donations she asked for to help cover her medical expenses, according to Attorney General Peter Neronha.
Alicia Pierini, 39, pleaded no contest to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses over $1,500.
Neronha said the Rhode Island State Police began investigating Pierini in May 2017 after receiving several tips from people who were skeptical of her story.
Detectives discovered that in January 2017, Pierini created a GoFundMe page in which she asked donations to help her pay for medical expenses following her cancer diagnosis. Neronha said Pierini went as far as shaving her head and eyebrows to keep up the scheme.
Financial records revealed the money Pierini received was not used for medical expenses and instead used to book trips, purchase tickets for sporting events and for other personal expenses.
Pierini was ordered to repay $26,993 to her victims, $10,840 of which came from family and friends. She must also repay $16,153 to GoFundMe, which has already paid back members who donated to Pierini through their website.
Pierini was given a 10-year suspended sentence, with an additional 10 years of probation.
Neronha called the sentencing a “significant step forward” in ensuring Pierini’s victims “are made whole.”
“I suspect, however, that no amount of restitution will fully repair the harm done to the trust and relationships between her family, friends, and generous members of the public,” Neronha said.