Monday, December 23, 2013

Natasha Leatherman Conviction for False Sexual assault and Fraud

One has to wonder, if there is a level of mental illness at play, for someone to not only claim to have leukemia, but to also claim to have been sexually assaulted.

A woman who conned people into believing she had leukemia, defrauded the state government out of thousands of dollars in medical benefits and falsely claimed that she had been sexually assaulted, took a plea deal last week in Superior Court and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Natasha L. Leatherman, 30, pleaded guilty to one count each of fraudulent schemes and artifices, obtaining a narcotic drug by fraud, and false reporting to a law enforcement agency. She accepted a plea agreement in the case that cut back the charges from four counts of fraudulent schemes.

Leatherman, who just over a year ago told The Daily Courier the story of how leukemia had affected her life, simply made up the illness, a news release from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said.

"I lied about being sick," she told Prescott Police. "I lied about everything because I was just... it was the pills," the release said.

In the Courier story, she was highlighted as a resident of the Prescott Area Women's Shelter, being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"Being here as long as I have, I know the value of this place and the volunteers," she said in the November 2012 interview. "I see life in a whole new light, thanks to them and really appreciate all they do to help."

Executive Director of the Prescott Women's Shelter Carmen Frederic said she could not immediately comment.

The release noted that she also had defrauded "many in the community who generously offered to help" her with donations of time and money.

Horne said she had defrauded the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) out of "tens of thousands of dollars in benefits."

Leatherman's second case dealt with falsely accusing a man of sexual assault in April. However, a police probable cause report said, she "could not provide a lot of detail" about the attack, except that the man had a knife.

In June, Leatherman called the officer and "admitted that she had lied about the whole event and had not been sexually assaulted," the report said, and she claimed that she had been under the influence of narcotics at the time.

She had made the same claim in March 2011, and said the suspect she named - a different man - had raped her twice. Again, her story was inconsistent, with an officer writing that her "description of the incident changed virtually each time she described it."

She was found guilty in that case as well and received probation.

A pre-sentence report prepared by the Adult Probation Department in 2011 said Leatherman had a "medium-low" risk of re-offending.

"We are giving a high priority to prosecuting those who defraud the AHCCCS program," Horne said. "Taxpayers need to be protected from this kind of fraud."