A school superintendent in Indiana is facing fraud charges after she allegedly used her health insurance to purchase medicine for a sick uninsured child at her school.
Casey Smitherman, of Elwood Community Schools in Elwood, was booked Wednesday on two counts of insurance fraud, one count of official misconduct and one count of identity deception before being released on bail.
In charging documents, Smitherman told authorities that she took the 15-year-old to see a doctor after realizing he had been absent from school because of a suspected case of strep throat and becoming worried. According to the IndyStar, the teenager lives with an elderly family member who does not have a car.
In the past, Smitherman had helped purchase clothing for the teenager and helped him clean his house, she told authorities. She said she didn’t call the Department of Child Services because she didn’t want him placed in foster care. The DCS has since opened an investigation, according to the charging documents.
After being turned away by one clinic because he lacked insurance, Smitherman said she identified the boy as her son at another clinic, which prescribed him Amoxicillin for his sore throat.
Her health insurance, identified by authorities as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, covered the cost of his treatment, which totaled $233, according to court documents obtained by Fox 59 News.
In a statement to local media, Smitherman said she knew what she did was wrong but that her only concern at the time was for the child’s well-being.
“As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic,” she said. “I knew he did not have insurance, and I wanted to do all I could to help him get well.”
The Elwood school board also expressed support for her, calling it an “unfortunate mistake but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare.”
“We know she understands what she did was wrong, but she continues to have our support,” it said.
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he will offer Smitherman a diversion program that will allow the charges to be dropped against her so long as she is not arrested again in the coming year.
“There would have been a much easier way to handle this and still accomplish the same goal without doing some of the things that she did that were inconsistent with our laws and our values,” Cummings told Fox 59 News.