Every spring, we see a number of heartwarming videos showing children who are battling serious illnesses getting to practice with major college football programs and bond with star athletes. One story – involving Syracuse football and a 9-year-old boy named C.J. LaFrance – made headlines last August. Unfortunately, according to police, it looks like the family may have lied about his health.
Syracuse.com is reporting Monday that the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office in New York says that LaFrance’s parents – Jolene and Martin – lied about their son’s health in order to illegally solicit money from donors. The Port Byron couple reportedly was given $3,000 in donations after claiming their son had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
LaFrance practiced with Syracuse football last August. In the video below, produced by Syracuse.com, LaFrance throws a football with a few players and winds up leading the team in the middle of the huddle. It was thought to be a heartwarming moment.
The family reportedly told SU after the visit that C.J. had a malignant tumor in his abdomen.
After the visit, CJ’s uncle, Justin Roe, said CJ’s diagnosis had recently been upgraded to Stage 3, that CJ had already undergone a full round of radiation and that he had lymph nodes removed via surgery. He added that a malignant tumor was found in CJ’s abdomen.
The Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office posted a note about the arrests on its Facebook page. There are more details regarding the case against the couple.
Sheriff David Gould reports that on May 4, 2018 after an approximately 4 month investigation Detectives arrested Martin…
The couple is being charged with scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child.
Update: GoFundMe has issued a statement on the case. Via a GoFundMe Spokesperson:
“The LaFrance Family has violated GoFundMe’s terms of service, and all donors will receive a refund. Additionally, they have been banned from our platform. It’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. Additionally, we are working with law enforcement on their investigation.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that misuse is extremely rare on our platform. Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others’ generosity. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue. For additional information about the GoFundMe guarantee, see here: gofundme.com/guarantee“