Superintendent facing fraud charges after using her insurance to help sick student

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ELWOOD, Indiana (WISH) — A central Indiana school superintendent is facing multiple criminal charges after she used her insurance to help a sick student get treatment. 

Court documents show Casey Smitherman of the Elwood Community Schools was charged with insurance fraud, identity deception and official misconduct. A warrant was issued for her arrest, the records show. The Associated Press reported she is free on bail. 

Attorney Bryan Williams told The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin that, under an agreement with the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office, Smitherman will enter a diversion program. That will allow the charges to be dropped if there are no further arrests in the coming year, Williams said. 

Court documents show Elwood police were told Jan. 16 that Smitherman took a 15-year-old boy to the St. Vincent Immediate Care at 7408 State Road 28 in Elwood for medical treatment but checked the boy in under the name of her son.

Chief Jason Brizendine and Officer Ben Gosnell went to the home of the 15-year-old boy and his guardian. The boy told police that he did not go to school Jan. 9 because he did not feel well and had a sore throat. The boy’s name was redacted from the court documents. 

According to court documents, the boy said Smitherman later picked him up and took him to the “med check” for an evaluation. After that, they went to the CVS Pharmacy in Elwood. Smitherman went inside and picked up an amoxicillin prescription that had “a different name” than his on the label. 

On Jan. 19, Smitherman, 48, went to the Elwood police station and told Chief Brizendine that she had been worried about the boy. Smitherman said she had previously purchased clothes for him and helped clean his house.

She also admitted to police she took the boy to the “med check” and got a prescription for the boy in her son’s name. 

Medical records obtained showed the boy was diagnosed with a sore throat, and the claim for the medical visit was $233.

Police also contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services and indicated the boy’s guardian may need financial help, the court documents said.

Smitherman issued this statement Wednesday afternoon: 

“Recently, I was given notice one of our students was not at school.  I went to his home to check on him, and he told me that he had not felt well enough to come to school.  After making sure he had eaten, I could tell he had some of the symptoms of strep throat. As a parent, I know how serious this illness can be if left untreated, and I took him to an emergency clinic.

“After one clinic refused to give the boy necessary treatment, I took him to a different clinic and told them he was my son. I knew he did not have insurance, and I wanted to do all I could to help him get well. I know this action was wrong. In the moment, my only concern was for this child’s health.

“I have been charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor, and I have cooperated with authorities every step of the way. I turned myself in to the Elwood police this afternoon and was immediately released on bail.  It is my understanding that the prosecutor has agreed to a diversion program and that should be finalized yet this afternoon.

“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. From the beginning, my ultimate goal has been to provide the best environment for Elwood students’ growth physically, mentally and academically, and I remain focused on that purpose.

“School board president Brent Kane has issued a statement of support below, for which I am also grateful. I am continuing to work with appropriate authorities as necessary and want to be transparent about my work with the Elwood community.

“‘Dr. Smitherman has tirelessly worked for the best interests of all students in Elwood Community Schools since she was hired. She made an unfortunate mistake, but we understand that it was out of concern for this child’s welfare. We know she understands how what she did was wrong, and she continues to have our full support in continuing in her position.  It is our understanding that she will be placed in a diversion program and that will be finalized this afternoon.'”

Elwood is about 40 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

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