Sentencing postponed for woman who bilked insurance company by claiming to be dying of leukemia
Sentencing was postponed today for a woman who fraudulently collected $500,000 in life insurance after claiming she was dying of leukemia.
Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Norton said he needed to review additional medical records for 32-year-old Jennifer Eden to evaluate her claims that she is too ill to receive proper care in federal prison.
Leonard Goldschmidt, a clinical neuropsychologist based in Murrell’s Inlet, told the judge that Eden has a rare blood disorder that causes her to have mini strokes. During his remarks, Goldschmidt referenced various evaluations that were not part of the pre-sentencing report provided to Norton and the attorneys involved in the case.
Norton said he needed to see all Eden’s medical records before imposing a sentence.
Prosecutors want the judge to give her the 41- to 51-month term recommended under the federal sentencing guidelines. Eden and her attorney urge leniency and are asking for probation.
Eden, who now lives in Myrtle Beach, pleaded guilty to a fraud charge in September.
Her attorney, James Irvin Jr., has asked the court to depart from the guidelines and grant her leniency due to, among her things, her “extreme remorse,” efforts at rehabilitation and a “tragic personal history” that includes exposure to domestic violence and her “extraordinary mental condition,” court documents state.
The documents state that Eden was abused as a child, resulting in a “lifelong mental health battle” and abusive relationships. She has been diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress syndrome, panic attacks and an anxiety disorder, court documents state.
Eden has asked that the court sentence her not to prison, but rather to probation, inpatient treatment or home confinement.
Prosecutors oppose Eden’s efforts to get a lenient sentence, characterizing her conduct as “shameless” and “egregious.” They said her fraud was sophisticated, lengthy and became a full-time job which allowed her to love comfortably.
“Most Americans fear contracting a terminal disease such as cancer of leukemia,” prosecutors stated in their motion. “Only a depraved person would falsely claim to have terminal leukemia in order to obtain insurance proceeds.”
In 2003, Eden obtained a $1 million life insurance policy from Genworth Life Insurance Co. for a $520 annual premium, court documents show. The owner could receive an early payment for the death benefit if they were expected to live six months or less.
In April 2008, Eden applied to Genworth for the accelerated death benefit, claiming she was dying of acute monoblastic leukemia and had less than six months to live, the indictment stated.
She received approximately $500,000 from Genworth for her claim. Medical records revealed to investigators Eden did not suffer from leukemia and was not terminally ill but submitted fake medical records to support the diagnosis, prosecutors said.
The basis for the mail fraud charge was that Eden sent the application for the accelerated death benefit through a commercial interstate carrier.
A dismissed count against Eden said she also fraudulently represented herself as a highly successful financial expert and business woman and persuaded an unidentified victim to invest $100,000 in her company, court records show.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charleston first became aware of Eden’s scheme after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago contacted them about her involvement in an insurance fraud investigation in Illinois, prosecutors have said.
Between 2003 and 2005 Eden sold four separate life insurance policies to Robin Hood Group, a viatical settlement company, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart has said. Viatical insurance is a market in which the terminally ill can sell life insurance policies before dying, typically receiving 50 percent to 70 percent of the death benefit.
Robin Hood bought about 300 life insurance policies from terminally ill Americans and sold the policies to investors in Asia, DeHart said in court. The company came under scrutiny because the original policy holders continued to live beyond 24 months in a “disproportionate number of cases,” he said, which prevented the payments of the death benefits. The policy buyers filed complaints against the company, prosecutors said.
Eden, who sold Robin Hood four policies for about $1 million, claimed to be terminally ill from advanced leukemia, according to DeHart. He also claimed Eden impersonated a fictitious doctor and discussed her alleged terminal condition with a doctor who had been retained by Robin Hood Group.
During the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago’s investigation of Eden, the FBI subpoenaed bank records and found a check to Eden from Genworth Insurance, DeHart has said. Eden defrauded both companies for $1.5 million between 2003 and 2008, he said.