A 59-year-old woman was sentenced December 29, 2010, after being convicted of fraud in Oklahoma. Mary Ann Flowers, of Bowlegs, was accused of falsifying information and making inaccurate claims in an effort to obtain medical benefits to treat cancer and other illnesses and ailments.
She was sentenced to 120 days of house arrest followed by four years of probation. In addition, Flowers is required to pay restitution in the amount of $121,482.60 to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), the Oklahoma Agriculture Department, and the Social Security Administration (SSA). According to her Oklahoma fraud attorney, Mary Ann Flowers is remorseful for her actions, but did not see any other way to gain adequate medical care for her cancer, osteoporosis, emphysema, and arthritis.
She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1994 and soon reached the $1 million ceiling on her private health insurance benefits. Flowers asserts that, while her husband's income exceeded the minimum requirement for medical benefits assistance, the cost of her care was more than they could afford.
She says that, had she not lied to receive benefits, she would not be alive today. Her cancer is currently in remission. When sentencing Mary Ann Flowers, a United States District Judge considered her motive and her lack of criminal record. According to Judge Joe Heaton, Flowers's motivation was a desire to receive necessary medical treatment.
Why Did She Do It?
This motivation, says Heaton, created a "somewhat extraordinary" situation. However, he points to the seriousness of the Oklahoma white collar crime, noting that, regardless of motive, Flowers's false claims were illegal. Under-reporting income in an effort to receive medical benefits is fraud.
Fraud Laws in the State of Oklahoma
In general, Oklahoma fraud law finds that if someone defrauds an individual of $500 or less, the perpetrator is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by restitution and up to a year in jail. If one is convicted of fraud in an amount of $1000 or more, he or she is guilty of a felony, which can result in a sentence of up to five years in prison and restitution to the fraud victim.