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A Mechanicsville woman convicted earlier this year of posing as a cancer patient to bilk contributions from sympathetic donors pleaded “no contest” to two felony counts in Hanover Circuit Court today related to the same scam.
On Jan. 8, Martha Nicholas, 43, entered the pleas to one count each of obtaining money by false premises and public assistance fraud. A “no-contest” plea means the defendant does not admit guilt but also does not dispute the criminal charge before them.
According to Hanover Commonwealth’s Attorney Trip Chalkley, both charges carry up to 20-year sentences. Nicholas will return to Circuit Court on April 22 for sentencing, Chalkley added.
Nicholas originally faced three counts each of welfare fraud and two counts each of obtaining money by false premises, according to court records. She was arrested on the five counts last June following a grand jury indictment. On Jan. 8, three of those charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.
According to court records, in March 2012, Nicholas was convicted in Hanover General District Court on two misdemeanor counts of obtaining money under false pretenses and received two 12-month jail sentences, both suspended.
She was originally arrested on those charges Dec. 7, 2011. At that time, Hanover investigators determined that Nicholas – a familiar figure at cancer prevention rallies – had never sought cancer treatment at any of the facilities she had cited during public appearances and testimonials.