Baltimore Co. Woman Sentenced To 15 Years In Cancer Scam

… Judge calls Leone ‘professional thief,’ orders her to pay $14,000 in restitution …

By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

12:47 PM EDT, October 28, 2010

A 38-year-old Rosedale woman who prosecutors said falsely claimed that she was dying of cancer and hit up her friends for thousands of dollars for treatments was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison on a charge of felony theft.

Dina Perouty Leone, a former real estate agent whose license was revoked in 2007, was also ordered by Baltimore County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II to pay restitution of $14,000 to her victims, though he acknowledged that he saw no chance Leone would actually do so.

In a tearful apology to the court, Leone said: “I didn’t know I had a problem until this came up. It’s not easy for me because I don’t know right from wrong all the time. I just need a chance.”

She then apologized to one of her victims, Jennifer Lynch, sitting a few feet away at the prosecution table.

“I’m very sorry that I hurt you. I really am,” Leone said.

In handing down the 15-year term — the maximum sentence in the case — Turnbull referred to the defendant’s previous convictions, starting with a case involving writing a bad check in 2004, as well as her involvement in a mortgage scam in Carroll County, for which she still faces a 10-year term in jail.

“That did absolutely nothing to deter you from going out and victimizing people again,” Turnbull said. ” … I have no sympathy for you. In my opinion, you’re a professional thief.”

Upon hearing the terms of her sentence, Leone, who had been standing, fell backward into her chair, her mouth wide-open in surprise. She then looked back into the courtroom toward her father, Neal Perouty, tears welling in her eyes.

Former friends of Leone’s said she told them she had been diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer and asked for help paying for chemotherapy. She raised thousands of dollars, but it was a lie, prosecutors said. In June, Leone pleaded guilty to the single count of felony theft, and three other charges were dropped.

In the 2004 bad check case, Leone faced 24 charges of theft in Carroll County; she was found guilty of a single theft-scheme count and sentenced to 18 months, suspended. Three years later, she was again found guilty of theft in Carroll County and served two months in jail.

Her guilty plea in Baltimore County triggered a parole violation in the Carroll County mortgage scam case, for which she is scheduled to appear before a judge in Westminster next month.

Copyright © 2010, The Baltimore Sun

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