bc-110127-gambling-slots

A Victoria woman has admitted to spending about $350,000 at casinos after swindling the money by faking serious illnesses.

A Victoria woman who faked a series of life-threatening illnesses in order to pay for her gambling addiction has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Tina Sammons pleaded guilty in November to four counts of fraud in which she swindled more than $350,000 from friends and relatives.

Sammons, 37, told her husband's parents, her brother-in-law, sister-in-law and her husband's best friend that she needed their money because as an American citizen, her health-care costs weren't covered, the court was told.

Between March 2009 and November 2010, Sammons, a native of West Virginia, variously told the people she defrauded that she needed treatment for cancer, a kidney transplant, three heart surgeries and a number of medical therapies. 

The court heard that she faked seizures and would lie in bed at home while her mother-in-law, 71, cleaned her house and took care of her child.

During a period that Sammons told people she was undergoing chemotherapy, she shaved her head, wore bandages and applied pale makeup.

She was arrested in November after her brother-in-law hired a private detective to investigate her, which led to the exposure of the 18-month spree.

Husband pleads with judge

Almost all of the money Sammons fraudulently took was spent at casinos, court was told.

Sammons's husband, Guy Robichaud, told the court he still loved his wife and had forgiven her and asked provincial court Judge Adrian Brooks to allow Sammons to serve two years less a day at home.

But Brooks ruled Sammons must do jail time to demonstrate how seriously society views such cruel deception.

After the sentencing, Sammon's brother-in-law, Marc Robichaud said despite her cruelty, his family will heal.

"We're very strong," he said. "We all love each other very much, even though there was some division. We will continue to support each other and no, she can't destroy us."