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Bride in cancer scam apologizes, leaves jail

A woman who faked having cancer so donors would pay for her "dream wedding" and Caribbean honeymoon was released from jail Wednesday after paying back more than $13,000 to the people she duped.

Jessica Vega apologized in court for the scam and was sentenced to time served; she had been behind bars for less than two months since her arrest. She had pleaded guilty last month to charges of scheming to defraud and possession of a forged instrument.

When she left the Orange County Jail a few hours after sentencing, she apologized again, saying "of course" she was sorry.

A prosecutor said Vega had paid back more than $13,000, with nine victims getting checks ranging from $500 to $3,700.

Vega also was sentenced to five years of probation and 300 hours of community service. She will enter substance abuse and mental health programs.

She was living in Montgomery, a town 60 miles north of New York City, when she began the scam, which picked up steam after her story was featured in a newspaper, the Times Herald-Record, of Middletown.

Area residents, touched by her claim that she was dying of leukemia, had paid for her dress, the wedding rings, an Aruba time-share for the honeymoon and more for her 2010 wedding to Michael O'Connell, the father of her baby.

After the wedding, O'Connell went to the newspaper with questions about Vega's story, and the couple divorced.

Vega was arrested in early April in Virginia, where she was again living with O'Connell and their second child.