The California woman who lied about having a firefighter husband battling a wildfire to collect thousands of dollars in donations she said would go to the cause but that she instead pocketed has been sentenced to jail time.
Ashley Bemis, 29, pleaded guilty on Friday to one felony count of grand theft, four felony counts of second-degree burglary, six misdemeanor counts of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and two dozen misdemeanor fraud counts, court records show.
The San Juan Capistrano woman collected more than $11,000 worth of cash and donations she claimed would go toward the crews fighting blazes across the state, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
She said her husband was fighting the Holy Fire, which was a wildfire that burned in the Cleveland National Forest in Orange and Riverside counties in August 2018.
“On multiple social media pages, Bemis posted pictures of herself and her fictitious firefighter husband asking for donations,” police said.
She claimed that her husband, Shane Goodman, was among the brave men and women working to save people, homes and the lands from the fires. “I received a text today from Shane saying it’s pretty much a living hell out there,” she wrote on Facebook.
Bemis appealed for supplies she said would go to Goodman and other firefighters, and allegedly collected items including socks, sports drinks, water, camping equipment and air mattresses. She also accepted more than $2,000 in cash donations, police said.
But an actual firefighter later found that her supposed husband did not exist. Cops raided Bemis' home and confiscated gifts she had not yet sold.
Police said this was not the first time Bemis had lied in order to make money.
"She does have a history of doing these types of scams for at least the last 10 years," Lt. Mike Peters of the Orange County Sheriff's Department told Inside Edition.
Bemis previously faked pregnancies to get money from strangers. In one incident, she allegedly claimed she had lost her husband and other children in a car crash. In response to her sob story, generous neighbors threw Bemis a baby shower and gifted her expensive presents for the unborn child.
“I made it,” Bemis said of the pregnancy and growing baby bump to Dr. Phil McGraw during a 2018 appearance on his show. “It’s just folded up blankets.”
After pleading guilty to the numerous charges she faced, Bemis was immediately sentenced to 177 days in county jail, KTLA-TV reported.