Man claims sister as wife to get benefits, will serve federal time

Crime
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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A former federal employee was sentenced in federal court today after claiming his sister and niece as his wife and step-child, allowing them to obtain over $150,000 worth of fraudulent health benefits.

This scheme lasted from 2005 to 2017 and included several years where the man resided in and worked in Charleston as a federal employee.

Edward Stephen, 61, of Baron Rouge, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to federal health care fraud and faces up to 10 years of incarceration and a $250,000 fine

He also will be subject to repay up to $151,660.53, United States Attorney Mike Stuart said.

According to a statement sent to 13 News, Stephen was a federal employee with the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. As a federal employee, he was eligible for health insurance provided by the federal government. 

“Stephen fraudulently enrolled extended family members into his federal health care plan knowing they were not eligible for federal health care benefits,” Stuart said. “Specifically, Stephen enrolled his sister as though she was his wife and his niece as though she was his stepchild so that they would obtain federal health care coverage they were not entitled to receive.” 

“For 12 years Mr. Stephen lied to get federal health insurance for ineligible family members,” Stuart said. “Let this be a clear message, if you are cheating the system we will find you.”

When investigators learned of the fraud, Stephen admitted he placed his extended family members on his federal insurance knowing they were not entitled to receive benefits. 

In total, the health insurance company was defrauded out of $151,660.53 in fraudulent premium payments and reimbursements.

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