Missouri woman sentenced to prison in major disability fraud case

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U.S. District Judge Sarah E. Pitlyk on Friday sentenced a Jefferson County, Missouri woman who was part of a wide-ranging scheme that fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in disability payments to 15 months in prison.

Elizabeth Guetersloh, 67, was also ordered to repay $423,513.

A jury in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in May found Guetersloh guilty of two counts of mail fraud, 16 counts of wire fraud, and eight counts of theft of government funds.

Guetersloh was among a group of now former Anheuser-Busch employees who visited a Jefferson County chiropractic clinic as part of a scheme to falsely claim disability payments from the Social Security Administration’s Disability Trust Fund and through private disability benefit insurance providers. In total, 17 defendants have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial of charges connected to the investigation.

“These defendants schemed to take advantage of a system intended to support those who are too disabled to work. The chiropractors took thousands of dollars in fees to teach the other defendants how to fake medical conditions and pretend they were unable to perform some of the basic necessities of life, like walking, standing, sitting, and lifting objects. Evidence at her trial showed that this defendant, Elizabeth Guetersloh, fraudulently filed for disability payments and then danced, hiked through waterfalls, rode roller coasters, went to wineries, and traveled to Europe, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Each defendant has been ordered to repay all of the money that was lost, which should serve as an important message that you will never come out ahead if you attempt to commit fraud.”

Chiropractors Thomas G. Hobbs and Vivian Carbone-Hobbs, co-owners of Power-Med Inc., a chiropractic clinic in Arnold, Missouri, were each sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year. Hobbs was ordered to repay $4.3 million, and Carbone-Hobbs was ordered to repay $16.4 million.

Hobbs, now 66, pleaded guilty in January to a conspiracy charge and admitted to conspiring to commit the crimes of health care fraud, making false statements, theft of government funds, and Social Security fraud. Carbone-Hobbs, now 61, was convicted by a jury in February of conspiracy to defraud the Social Security Administration, 10 counts of health care fraud, and two counts of theft of money from the United States.

“This sentence holds Ms. Elizabeth Guetersloh accountable for her criminal actions and concludes a major case that involved several medical professionals and many other defendants, who conspired to defraud SSA’s disability program and private insurers,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “I applaud the efforts of those who uncovered this fraud and the investigators who tirelessly unraveled this scheme. I also commend Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Berry, Dorothy McMurtry, Gwendolyn Carroll, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Klocke who worked diligently to bring these cases to conclusion.”

The cases were investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Berry, Dorothy McMurtry, Diane Klocke, and Gwendolyn Carroll prosecuted the case.

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