Most prom queens just dream of going down in the books—not of being booked. But more than ten months after police launched an investigation, Angie Gomez, a Horizon City prom queen, was hit with a felony charge of theft by deception after she allegedly scammed her way to $17,000 dollars by claiming that she was dying of leukemia.
Beginning last year in March, the El Paso Times reported on then eighteen-year-old Gomez, who said that doctors had recently given her six months to live following a lifelong battle with cancer. Victor Martinez of the Times added this on her alleged condition:
Gomez was first diagnosed with leukemia - a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of white blood cells - when she was 2 years old. She moved to Kansas City, Mo., for treatment at Children's Mercy Hospital, where Gomez spent the next 11 years of her life. The hospital is associated with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital…
"I was leukemia-free from 13 to 17, for four years," she said. "But I still had to get blood transfusions and treatment, and I started feeling weak again and started having symptoms."
In May 2010, doctors told her the cancer had returned.
Around the same times Gomez said doctors diagnosed her with a terminal illness, she founded the Achieve the Dream Foundation to help the families of kids with the same blood disease she claimed to have. She told the Times:
The last time I was at St. Jude's, I realized how a lot of kids don't have an opportunity to have treatment like this.
I was blessed to have insurance covered for the rest of my life. There are kids whose parents can't afford to be at St. Jude's. I started to see so many kids being denied, so many kids being turned away and I thought of the foundation. I don't want money to be an issue for kids not to have treatment.
Students, teachers, and the community united for Gomez and held multiple fundraisers. The Times reported that students at Da Vinci School for Science and the Arts even held Angie’s Dream Prom to raise money for the foundation two months after Gomez said she was unable to attend her own senior prom.
But on June 2 last year, police opened an investigation into Gomez’s fraudulent illness when they received an anonymous tip that she did not exhibit signs of illness nor did she seem to be seeking any medical care.
Police filed charges against Gomez for theft by deception back in September, but they sent the case to the district attorney as a non-arrest. By this point, investigators had subpoenaed the bank records from Gomez’s charity Achieve the Dream and had determined that she brought in around $17,000.
Then, last Thursday, the Thirty-Fourth District Court indicted Gomez with a theft by deception felony charge in an amount between $1,500 and $20,000. She was arrested the next evening and held on a bond of $50,000. Investigators said that Gomez’s mother wasn’t privy to the degree to which Gomez fundraised, but was working to sort out the matter.
Her lawyer, Sheldon Myers, has aimed to lower that bond by today and has since attested that Gomez meant well with her fundraising efforts. "When she was much younger, she had spent some time in the hospital where she did have leukemia and cancer," Myers said in a Times report. "And because of her experience, her heart had gone out to younger children that were going through the same.”