A California wedding planner who posed as a firefighter’s wife in order to steal thousands of dollars in donations, which she claimed would go to firefighters battling a recent wildfire, will be spending 177 days in county jail.
Ashley Bemis, 29 and of San Juan Capistrano, was sentenced after pleading guilty Friday to one count of grand theft and four counts of second-degree burglary, according to the Los Angeles Times. Additionally, she pleaded guilty to six counts of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and to 24 counts of fraud.
Bemis, who is single, pretended to be married to a firefighter and posted photos of herself along with a man she claimed was her husband in order to ask for donations over social media, investigators say according to the Orange County Register. The donations, she claimed, would go to those helping to fight the wildfire dubbed the “Holy Fire,” a blaze that damaged the Cleveland National Forest in both Orange and Riverside Counties in 2018, burning 23,000 acres and destroying nearly 20 structures.
“My Shane works for Cal Fire and is out on the Holy Fire right now,” Bemis wrote on Facebook, according to the Daily Beast. “I also have two other family members and many friends out on this fire and other fires burning here in California. I received a text today from Shane saying it’s pretty much a living hell out there battling the unpredictable ‘Holy Hell Fire.’ ”
She ended up raking in about $6,000 in donations. A suspicious fire captain alerted the authorities to the scam.
Last November Bemis appeared on The Dr. Phil Show defending her actions.
“It’s true that I’ve been accused of that. That’s not what my goal was,” she said. “I was trying to honestly help the firefighters.”
It wasn’t her only scam, according to prosecutors. She is accused of tricking others into throwing her baby showers for after faking a pregnancy, according to the Orange County Register.
She allegedly wore fake baby bump and posed in photos with babies in order to scam others. However, was never charged in connection with any of the alleged baby scams.
Bemis reportedly worked as a wedding planner at A Sweetpea Event & Celebration.
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