Posted: 7:00 p.m.
Kody Grode, 24, of Yuma, is beginning her 90-day stay behind bars after being sentenced Friday on a count of theft for collecting donations when she lied and said she had stage-three ovarian cancer.
"I would have never thought my most trusted and loved friend would do such a cruel and heartless thing to me. It is to this day, hard to understand," reads a victim's statement from Gina Tolomei, who was Grode's best friend of nine years.
Grode began living a lie in 2012, telling everyone but her family that she had cancer.
Grode even gave details about chemotherapy and surgeries, court documents show.
During this time, friends held fundraisers for her, raising between $2,000 and $3,000.
Lutes Casino in Yuma was one of the businesses to fall victim.
"[The case is] very unusual. Lutes Casino continues to do takeovers. And it's just unfortunate that one--one out of many, many," said Mike Lutes, owner of Lutes Casino.
The situation is disappointing for Lutes, but he said he believes this case is the exception rather than the rule.
YUMA--Court documents show a copy of a check donated by Lutes Casino to Grode during a fundraiser.
"Yuma does a good job of donating to the community. I'm sure it's not going to hurt the Yuma community at all."
Meanwhile, those close to Grode still struggle to understand why she said she was terminally ill.
"When someone lies to you--you have that betrayal. You feel dirty, like, 'Oh my gosh, who can I trust?'" said Clara Tolomei, one of Grode's victims.
Court documents show Grode told deputies she lied "just to not go to work."
While fraud was part of Grode's original charges, she took a plea agreement that left only one count of theft.
But, her victims said what Grode stole measures beyond anything monetary--robbing them of their sense of trust, replacing that with doubt and betrayal.
Friday, Judge Maria Elena Cruz also sentenced Grode to three years probation.
Within that time, she must repay her victims.
Cruz ordered Grode to complete community service, if possible, with cancer patients.
Cruz ruled the count of theft a non-designated offense, meaning, that if Grode successfully completes all of the terms of her sentence, the offense could be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Cruz cited Grode's lack of a criminal history as the reasoning.