Woman accused of cheating fund set up for Boston Marathon bombing victims

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A woman who claims she was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing has been charged with fraudulently collecting money from a fund set up for the victims.

Joanna Leigh claims the indictment is retribution for her vocal criticism of the way One Fund Boston disbursed the funds.

Authorities say Leigh, 41, collected almost $40,000 from One Fund and other sources after claiming to have suffered a brain injury during the attack.

They say she received $8,000 payment from One Fund Boston, which was set up to compensate bombing victims. She’s also accused of receiving $1,700 from a school fundraiser, collecting more than $9,000 in contributions from an online fundraiser and getting more than $18,000 in benefits from the Massachusetts Victims for Violent Crime compensation fund. The indictment says she also accepted free medical treatment.

No one is contesting that Leigh was at the marathon on April 15, 2013, the day of the attack. But Boston Police and Suffolk County investigators say she wasn’t hurt.

She apparently did not claim any injury or seek any medical treatment until about two weeks later.

“When she did begin to make those claims, she billed herself as a ‘hero’ who ran toward the second blast,” authorities said.

Leigh says the indictment is payback for her criticism of One Fund.

She and others have claimed they weren’t properly compensated by the fund because of the way it calculated payments. If someone’s injury didn’t require an overnight hospital stay, he or she received $8,000. Those who were hospitalized got $125,000 or more.

“I don’t think this is about me; I think this is because I spoke out about The One Fund,” she told the Boston Globe on Thursday. “I think this is about killing the messenger.”

Leigh will be arraigned Monday. She intends to plead not guilty.

The indictment comes as Dzhokar Tsarnaev stands trial for the bombing that killed three and left more than 260 people maimed or injured.

By Andreas Preuss

CNN’s Sam Stringer contributed to this report