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Felony charges for Indiana school leader who used her insurance to help sick student

Casey Smitherman — the 48-year-old superintendent of schools in Elwood, Indiana, pictured at right — faces felony charges after she lied that a student was her son to use her health insurance for his strep throat prescription and treatment.
Casey Smitherman — the 48-year-old superintendent of schools in Elwood, Indiana, pictured at right — faces felony charges after she lied that a student was her son to use her health insurance for his strep throat prescription and treatment. Screen grab from WTHR

An Indiana school superintendent said she was charged with three felonies after pretending a student with strep throat was her own son to get him medical treatment.

I know this action was wrong,” Casey Smitherman, superintendent of schools in Elwood, Indiana, said in a statement, according to Fox 40. “In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.”

Court documents said Smitherman, 48, took the 15-year-old student to a doctor because the teen was absent from school Jan. 9 with a sore throat. However, Smitherman used her own child’s name when she signed the student in at a clinic, and then filled a prescription for antibiotics for the child under her son’s name as well, Fox reports.

Madison County prosecutors charged Smitherman with felony insurance application fraud, felony identity deception, felony official misconduct and misdemeanor insurance fraud. On Wednesday prosecutors signed an agreement with Smitherman to dismiss the charges if she isn’t arrested again in the next year, the Herald Bulletin reports.

“I am continuing to work with appropriate authorities as necessary and want to be transparent about my work with the Elwood community,” Smitherman said, according to the newspaper. “The Elwood community has been welcoming since I started this position, and I am so grateful for your support. I am committed to this community and our students, and I regret if this action has undermined your trust in me.”

Smitherman said she knew the student didn’t have his own insurance, which is why she used her own Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance, the Herald Bulletin reports.

Police got a tip about what happened and began investigating, according to Fox.

Elwood police interviewed Smitherman on Jan. 19, WISH-TV reports, and she told them she was concerned about the boy, who she had bought clothing for in the past. Court documents said that social workers confirmed “the boy’s guardian may need financial help,” WISH-TV reports. Smitherman also confessed to having taken the boy for medical care and filling a prescription for him, according to the TV station.

Medical records said there was a $233 claim for the boy’s trip to the doctor, WISH-TV reported, and that he was diagnosed with strep throat.

Smitherman said she handled the situation herself rather than calling child protective services because she didn’t want the student to end up in the foster care system, WTHR reports.

Charles Gerhard, the boy’s guardian and uncle, told WTHR that “more than likely I could have taken care of it — I mean, I’m not totally broke, but we have to scrape a little bit now and then.”

Gerhard said he thinks the school should have notified him instead.

Smitherman’s attorney, Bryan Williams, said his client won’t have a record after the incident, the Herald Bulletin reports.

“It’s already been determined she is not going to have any convictions for what she did,” Williams said, according to the newspaper. “It’s not like they are giving her special treatment. This is for people who have never had arrests or convictions before.”

Elwood Community Schools Board of Trustees said in a statement that it supports Smitherman, according to WTHR.

“Dr. Smitherman has tirelessly worked for the best interests of all students in Elwood Community Schools since she was hired,” the statement said, according to the WTHR. “She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare.”

Elwood is located in central Indiana, not far from Indianapolis.

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