The Syracuse football squad helped then nine-year-old C.J. LaFrance forget about his cancer diagnosis for a few hours when the team invited him to practice last August.
There is only one problem — LaFrance doesn’t have cancer.
According to the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office, his mother and father, Jolen and Martin LaFrance, made up that their child had Hodgkin’s lymphoma in order to illegally solicit about $3,000 from remorseful donors.
Martin and Jolene LaFrance received the donations through a GoFundMe page, which has since been deleted according to The Syracuse Post-Standard. The sheriff’s office charged the couple with scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child last week.
Several family members joined C.J. in his visit with the Syracuse football team last fall, where he received a chance to meet coach Dino Babers and some of his favorite players. He also broke down practice after former Syracuse linebacker Zaire Franklin brought him into the team huddle.
One of the family members with C.J. during the visit was his uncle Justin Roe. During the visit, he told The Syracuse Post-Standard that his nephew’s diagnosis had been upgraded to Stage 3. Roe also said C.J. had already undergone a full round of radiation and received surgery to remove lymph nodes.
The Syracuse Post-Standard reports the police investigation is ongoing. It is unknown at this time what role Roe may have played in the alleged scheme to defraud.
A GoFundMe spokesperson reached out to DieHards.com on Monday evening with the following statement:
“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“