A West Virginia couple was imprisoned for hatching an elaborate plan to counterfeit a woman’s death.
The duo planned to convince police that Julie Wheeler had fallen off a steep cliff.
They planned to flee together to avoid her going to jail for medical fraud.
“Almost Heaven in West Virginia” took on new meaning after being convicted on Monday for an elaborate fraud to forge a woman’s death to help the couple’s duo fend off their sentence.
Dramatic search and rescue operations last year when Rodney Wheeler, 48, called 911, desperately claiming his wife had fallen off a cliff while hiking in the Grand View Overlook in New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia. It started in May.
according to Washington postAuthorities have put a lot of effort into finding Julie Wheeler, 44, working under the assumption that she actually fell 1,400 feet from an oversight into the New River basin. The search and rescue team (volunteers stationed with the help of detection dogs and helicopters) trekked for days with brave efforts to find a wheeler that covered miles along the New River.
Rodney Wheeler went on to make a heartfelt post on Facebook and wrote: “”
“I’m sore and lost right now, but I need to have faith … Give me valuable time through this, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Please give me.”
This turned out to be a ploy made by Wheeler who was trying to help Julie Wheeler escape being sent to jail for medical fraud. Police found her three days later in the closet of a couple’s house in Beaver, a small town of less than 2,000 in southern West Virginia.
In a statement released by the Federal Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of West Virginia, authorities said Julie Wheeler was charged with fraud in September 2019 and pleaded guilty. Wheeler tricked the Department of Veterans Affairs office in 2016 to increase working hours and misappropriate about $ 470,000 from the program.
She will be sentenced to prison on June 17, last year, which may have landed her in jail for 10 years.
The Wheelers then revealed that Julie intended to sleep low after the “accident” on May 31st. Then they ran away together and helped her avoid a long sentence.
“It’s hard to hide at home,” said US lawyer Mike Stuart. statement.. “West Virginia law enforcement experts are true professionals, who have used critical resources and bet their lives on saving or recovering defendants from what was falsely reported as a terrible tragedy. . “
According to a document from the Justice Department, Rodney Wheeler He was sentenced to two months in prison on Monday in federal prison.After that, due to a conspiracy to obstruct justice, he was released under house arrest for half a year and under surveillance for three years.
Meanwhile, Julie Wheeler Judgment Up to 54 months in prison-42 months for medical fraud and another 12 months for attempts to forge her death. She was also ordered to pay $ 300,000 in damages.
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