Posted: 11:25 p.m.
Kody Grode, 24, of Yuma, was sentenced Friday to three months in jail and three years probation on a count of theft for accepting money from friends and coworkers after she lied about having cancer.
"Kody played a very ugly, calculated game until she got caught," said Clara Tolomei, reading her daughter's victim statement. Tolomei's daughter and Grode had been best friends for nine years.
"Everything she did was premeditated. Cancer is not a joke--it is very real. Kody made a mockery out of cancer and out of the people who fight for their lives," Tolomei said reading the letter.
Tolomei said her daughter was too devastated to read the letter in court herself.
"I saw my daughter fall apart. This was going through a time when my father was dying of cancer. Gina (Tolomei's daughter) was very close to him, so she was torn between the both of them, thinking she was going to lose both of them," Tolomei said.
Grode began living a lie in 2012, when she told her best friend and her co-workers at a local daycare that she had stage three ovarian cancer.
Through fundraisers and personal donations, she collected between $2,000 and $3,000 from people who wanted to help.
"She lied so easily. When somebody lies to you--you have that betrayal, and you feel dirty. You feel like, 'Oh my gosh, who can I trust? Is that person lying to me?'" Tolomei said.
Grode told her friends and coworkers that she underwent chemotherapy and had surgery to remove a tumor.
After some time, friends started realizing that what Grode would say and do weren't adding up.
Court documents show that one of Grode's victim's who donated to her writes in part, "What surprises me most is that Ms. Grode knew that...both of my parents were in remission from cancer."
Yuma County Superior Court Judge Maria Elena Cruz said in court that it is clear Grode caused suffering to victims over an extended period of time "having the ability to alleviate their pain. How could you put them through that suffering? How calloused."
Although Tolomei said she and Grode's other victims were deeply hurt and betrayed, she still wants people to believe in the goodness of others.
"We can't think that way. We have to believe that there's honest people, and they're not going to lie. I want people to just believe--have faith in mankind."
The judge also ordered Grode to repay her victims, and ordered her to do community service with cancer patients, if possible to "help you grow and to help you see what you were toying with."