msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/15/2011 8:33:29 AM ET 2011-09-15T12:33:29

An upstate New York woman has admitted to gambling away thousands of dollars raised to help her son fight cancer.

The Buffalo News reports that 46-year-old Sherry Holcomb of Cortland pleaded guilty Wednesday in state Supreme Court to a felony count of scheme to defraud.

The newspaper reports that Holcomb confessed to losing $15,000 of her son's benefit money while gambling at casinos in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Canada.

Prosecutors say the money had been raised for her 21-year-old son, Ryan O'Donnell, who's being treated for leukemia.

Holcomb opened a bank account in which she deposited money raised for her son. She also deposited checks sent with get-well cards for O'Donnell, The Buffalo News reported, and then used ATM cards to withdraw funds for gambling.

"I'm not sure how much of Ryan's money I've gambled away, but it is virtually all gone," Holcomb said in a written confession. "I know it was wrong to spend his money and I'm sorry for doing it. I'm ashamed of myself."

Holcomb is her son's primary caregiver, according to The Buffalo News. Two debit cards were issued for the bank account with the funds; she kept both of them.

"I've had a gambling addiction for the past six or seven years," Holcomb wrote in her confession.

Story: Cops: Texas teenager faked cancer, collected $17,000 in donations

She faces up to four years in prison when she's sentenced Nov. 16.

Holcomb has agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution, The Buffalo News reported. She will remain the primary caregiver for O'Donnell, who continues to be treated at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, reported the paper.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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