There is a bizarre case out of Charleston, West Virginia where Julie M. Wheeler has been given an additional year in prison after trying to fake her death to avoid sentencing for health care fraud. That secured an added conviction for conspiring to obstruct justice. Her husband will also now spend time in prison.
Wheeler implicated her husband as conspiring to keep her out of prison. The record however was already clear. Rodney Wheeler reported that she had fallen from an overlook at the New River Gorge. After an intensive search, police found Wheeler hiding in her closet.
The court required that the added year be served consecutively with her sentence to 42 months in prison for health care fraud related to overbilling.
Rodney Wheeler pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice could face up to five years in prison, though that seem unlikely given the one year sentence meted out to his wife.
What is fascinating is the belief that the couple could keep her death a secret for long. It is increasingly difficult to be paperless or recordless in our society.
It does appear however that it can be more difficult to prove you are actually alive. A French woman has been trying to prove that she is living for three years without success. Jeanne Pouchain, 58, even has had to file certificates from doctors attesting that she is indeed alive since courts would not just take her word for it.
Clearly Wheeler should have moved to France before attempting this conspiracy. The authorities seem unwilling to acknowledge even living people as still alive.