Back in April of 2015, parents Joannessa Clawson and James Clawson of Marietta, GA found themselves in hot water after authorities alleged the three of them manufactured the three-year-old’s life-threatening heart condition.
According to the Cobb County District Attorney’s office, this all started in March 2015, when staff at Mountain View Elementary became concerned when the child missed several days of school and also appeared at one point with her hair “hacked off.” The family told district officials the child was in the hospital with a life-threatening heart condition. At this point, school officials found a GoFundMe campaign set up to take donations for the ‘sick’ child, and became concerned the child was being used by her parents to perpetrate a fraud.
When law enforcement went to the Clawson home, the allegedly sick child came running to answer the door, leaving the parents stumbling to explain why the child appeared to be perfectly healthy. Upon further investigation, it was also discovered that when suspicions were raised about the GoFundMe account, Clawson, now 36, produced a forged note from an actual physician indicating he was treating her child. The telephone number on the note, however, belonged to Clawson’s mother.
All of the money given through the GoFundMe page was refunded to the donors, and Clawson did not receive any of the funds.
KESQ reported that others had tried to alert authorities to the Clawsons’ suspicious behavior at least a year before their 2015 arrest.
“It’s disgusting behavior,” said ADA David Williamson. “Ms. Clawson used her daughter to perpetrate a fraud that preyed upon the charity and goodwill of others in our community. Hopefully her conviction will send a message about how Cobb County handles those who attempt to take advantage of other people’s kindness.”
When reached by Gofraudme, Williamson told us that he is unaware of any other cases involving GoFundMe currently under investigation by his office.
Clawson pleaded guilty to forgery in the first degree, identity fraud, false swearing, and conspiracy to commit theft by deception last Friday, and was sentenced to 10 years by Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard; she’ll serve one year in jail and the remaining nine on probation. She surrendered herself into custody the following day.
Charges of false swearing and conspiracy to commit theft by deception are still pending against Clawson’s husband, James Clawson.