Brooklyn couple pleads guilty in fraud scheme


A man and woman from Brooklyn pleaded guilty on Sept. 28 to a scheme in which they lied about raising money for a child’s funeral and instead spent it on drugs, according to District Attorney Madeline Singas.

Brittney Schmidt, 31, and Vincent Fina, 30, were arrested in March and charged with a scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child, after they were seen entering several businesses on Merrick Road in Lynbrook and asking for money. According to Nassau County police, members of the Lynbrook Police Department then confronted the couple, who said they were collecting money for a child’s funeral, and arrested them after an investigation.

Detectives determined that Schmidt and Fina were using a photo of a boy named Gianni from Staten Island, who had brain cancer, but was still alive. They were also able to identify the victims of the fraud, which included businesses in Lynbrook and Baldwin, as well as businesses, fire districts and police precincts in Queens and Brooklyn.

In November, Schmidt and Fina will be sentenced to five years’ probation with a requirement of drug treatment and 60 hours of community service each.

“The good people of Nassau County gave generously when these defendants conned them with a pitch for a fake cancer charity,” Singas said in an emailed statement. “This disposition ensures that they will receive the drug treatment that they need and provide service to the community to make amends.”