BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– A woman who was the subject of a three day search around the New River Gorge National River will be sentenced for previous federal charge. Julie Wheeler pleaded guilty to health care fraud back in February 2020. On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced she will be sentenced on June 17.
In a separate investigation, Mrs. Wheeler was arrested on Tuesday, June 2 after she reportedly fell from the Grandview overlook of New River Gorge National River on Sunday, May 31. That’s when several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, along with rescue crews, began their extensive search for Mrs. Wheeler.
Efforts included a search by helicopter and on foot using a rope line to go down into the jagged, canyon of the New River Gorge. However, Mrs. Wheeler was found hiding in her closet at her home in Beaver.
Not only was Mrs. Wheeler arrested, her husband Rodney Wheeler is also facing charges including faking a missing person’s report.
“It is hard to hide at home,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “My team is in close communication with the Raleigh County Prosecutor and the West Virginia State Police. We are monitoring the developments in the Wheeler investigation. We are conducting a thorough federal investigation at this time. I have directed federal resources to ensure we bring every appropriate federal charge – against Ms. Wheeler and any other persons involved in this matter. I want to commend the excellent investigative work of the West Virginia State Police and all those involved in her search and rescue. West Virginia law enforcement professionals are real pros and they utilized critical resources and risked their lives to try to save or recover the defendant from what was falsely reported to be an awful tragedy. This is an ongoing investigation as it pertains to any federal criminal charges.”
Julie Wheeler could face up to 10 years in prison for the previous health care fraud charge. As part of her plea agreement she will also have to pay an amount of restitution ranging from $302,131 to $469,983, to be determined by the Court at sentencing.