BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A Beckley woman pleaded guilty to health care fraud in federal court.
On Tuesday, February 11, 2020 United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced Julie Wheeler pleaded guilty to health care fraud. She can face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Wheeler will be sentenced on May 20, 2020. As part of her punishment, she will be ordered to pay restitution in an amount ranging from $302,131 to $469,983.
“Can you imagine? Wheeler defrauded the Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program and in the process stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers. Taking advantage of the condition of Spina Bifida of a child for personal greed is truly a despicable crime. Wheeler even admitted that she defrauded the VA of hundreds of thousands of dollars and deprived the victim- a child diagnosed with Spina Bifida- of services. The VA provides critical benefits and services to heroic veterans and their dependents. Our veterans deserve better. The families of our veterans deserve better. And the victims of terrible conditions like Spina Bifida deserve all of God’s graces. Greed is a terribly destructive human condition,” United States Attorney Mike Stuart stated.
The VA provided health care benefits to certain Korean and Vietnam War veteran’s children who were diagnosed with spina bifida through the Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program. Spina Bifida is a type of birth defect where there is an incomplete closing of the spine, potentially leading to complications including difficulty in walking, poor bladder or bowel control, and difficulty in mobility.
A veteran’s child, received a diagnosis and qualified for in home care through this VA program.
Wheeler was related to the victim and was also the owner of a homecare services company, JRW Homecare Support Services. Wheeler was hired to provide services to the victim because of their Spine Bifida condition. The VA approved Wheeler’s rate of $736 a day to provide eight hours of daily services.
Wheeler’s care was supposed to include bathing, grooming, changing clothes and other issues associated with the child’s hygiene, food intake, and lifestyle.
Wheeler submitted fraudulent applications where she filled out VA forms and was overpaid for providing care. Wheeler did not provide the victim the care for and during the time period described.
Wheeler submitted claims to the VA stating that she provided care for the victim eight hours a day, seven days a week, from October 2016 to April 2018. Wheeler gave a statement to the VA and the FBI admitting that she greatly inflated the rate and quality of the care that she provided to the victim.
Witnesses confirmed that Wheeler did not provide eight hours of daily care. Wheeler admitted to investigators that she defrauded the VA of hundreds of thousands of dollars and deprived the victim of services.
The victim of the spina bifida diagnosis passed away. The investigation was conducted by members of the United States Attorney’s Healthcare Fraud Abuse, Recovery and Response Team (ARREST).