West Virginia woman sentenced after faking death
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia woman who faked her own death to get out of a fraud charge has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, officials said Tuesday.
Julie M. Wheeler, 43, was sentenced for defrauding a federal health care program and now faces local charges for reporting a false emergency, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart.
Authorities said Wheeler pleaded guilty to the fraud charge in February but before she could be sentenced, she and her family staged her fall from the Grandview State Park overlook. The report of her falling led to an extensive effort to find her body.
Eventually, state police found Wheeler at her home in Beckley, hiding in a closet.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Wheeler has hired an attorney for the local charges.