A six-year-old girl won an essay contest for Hanna Montana ticket beginning with the fraudulent claim that “My daddy died this year in Iraq.” What is astonishing is the amoral attitude of the mother, Priscilla Ceballos, who said “We did the essay and that’s what we did to win . . . We did whatever we could do to win.” The question is now whether prosecutors will do whatever they can to criminally charge on what may constitute a fraud. It could be a close question.
No one should seriously consider a criminal charge against the child, but the knowledge and involvement of the mother could change matters. The tickets are these sold-out concerts are reportedly going for hundreds of dollars each. The girl was also given other gifts such a make-over. If they were secured by fraud, it can be treated criminally.
The sponsor of the contest was Club Libby Lu, a Chicago-based store that sells clothes, accessories and games for young girls.
Judging from the statement above, this was a premeditated act and the mother had told company officials that the girl’s father died April 17 in a roadside bombing in Iraq. She even identified the soldier as Sgt. Jonathon Menjivar. The military has no record of such a soldier serving, let alone dying, in Iraq.The question could be the representation behind the essay. If it was just an essay contest, such claims could be treated as artistic license.
Such fraudulent practices have been charged criminally in the past, where people served gifts or donations on false claims.
Just last year, a couple in Kansas City claimed to have had sextuplets. Sarah Everson, 33, and, Kris Everson, 45, arranged to have their story published in the local newspaper in an Independence, Missouri, newspaper. They claimed that the babies were in intensive care and set up a website for contributions. In that case, $3500 was acquired fraudulently and they were charged. Click here
The same was true for Robert Joseph Thom, 45, of Oceanside. Thom told fellow federal workers that he had cancer and, under a special program, convinced them to donate nearly 1,000 hours of their own paid leave for his cancer treatments and recover. He pleaded guilty. Thom was an information technology specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Southern California and claimed that he had undergone “multiple urgent surgeries for the removal of malignant tumors,” according to court records. He forged four letters from a doctor, all attesting to his ongoing medical problems, according to a September indictment. He will be sentenced in February. For that story, click here
As for Ceballos, the question will not be the amounted of money — which should quality as a felony. It turn on the significance of the fraudulent claim to securing the gifts.For the story on Montana tickets, click here