Convicted felon faces federal charge over faked death

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CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — An convicted felon and her husband are facing additional federal charges.

Julie and Rodney Wheeler, 44 and 48 respectively, of Beaver were indicted for conspiracy to obstruct justice. The new charges come from a plan to fake Julie Wheeler’s death.

According the indictment, Mr. Wheeler falsely reported Mrs. Wheeler fell from the overlook at Grandview Park on May 31, 2020. This led to a massive search and rescue effort. It came to a close when West Virginia State Troopers searched their home in Beaver and found Julie Wheeler hiding in a closet.

“Lies and deception. The indictment alleges that Julie Wheeler knowingly conspired with her husband, Rodney, to falsely report her fall from the New River Gorge National River,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Wheeler was already convicted of federal health care fraud for a most heinous crime of fraudulently obtaining nearly $300,000 from the VA’s spina bifida fund. Instead of accepting responsibility and being accountable for her horrendous conduct, she and her husband concocted a really bad scheme and, in the process, risked the lives of first responders and the critical resources of taxpayers. It is unconscionable conduct by any measure.”

The Wheelers are also charged for numerous felony and misdemeanor offenses in West Virginia for falsely reporting an emergency.

Julie Wheeler was sentenced 42 months in prison on June 30, 2020 for health care fraud. She will also have three years of supervised release and is ordered to pay $289,055.07 in restitution. She pleaded guilty on Feb. 11, 2020.

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