Shannon Nenninger, 49, of Imperial admitted to fraudulently collecting more than $450,000 by falsely claiming to be disabled. The former Anheuser-Busch InBev employee pleaded guilty to conspiracy involving health care fraud, making false statement to a government agency, theft of government funds and Social Security fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.
She pleaded guilty Oct. 12 in the Eastern District of Missouri and her sentencing set for Jan. 19 in front of U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey. She faces a prison sentence of 18 to 24 months, and she could be ordered to repay the money when she appears before U.S. according to the plea agreement.
Nenninger reportedly was part of a scheme, along with chiropractor Thomas Hobbs and his wife, Vivian Carbone-Hobbs, who also is a chiropractor, of Power Med in Arnold, the Hobbs’ employees Christian Barrera and Clarissa Pogue, former AB InBev union representative James Ralston and patients Elizabeth Guetersloh, Glenda Johnson, Sheila Huffman and Gary Walesky, of filing false claims to collect more than $12 million from the Social Security Administration, Anheuser-Busch InBev and insurance companies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.
Hobbs also has been indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm after investigators found a shotgun during a Feb. 27, 2019, search of his office at 16 Municipal Drive in Arnold, court documents show.
Hobbs has pleaded not guilty in the case, and a trial date has not been set. Carbone-Hobbs also has pleaded not guilty and has filed a motion for her case to be tried separately from those for the other alleged conspirators, court records show.
Nenninger said in her plea agreement that in 2011, Hobbs earned a reputation among Anheuser-Busch InBev employees for providing fraudulent medical leave slips as well as exaggerating patient’s medical conditions to falsely claim disability insurance payments from the federal government and private insurance companies.
Nenninger reportedly paid Hobbs $6,100 between Jan. 8, 2013, and Nov. 28, 2017, to help her collect $457,107.30 from the Social Security Administration, Prudential Insurance and MetLife. Hobbs also allegedly received $3,501.88 from Blue Cross Blue Shield for unnecessary tests and treatment he performed and prescribed to Nenninger, according to the plea agreement.
Nenninger admitted to traveling internationally, attending concerts, doing yardwork, fishing and attending various social events despite having falsely claimed she had to use a cane and brace because of her medical condition and no longer could participate in those kinds of activities, the plea agreement said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims the scheme started in 2011 and continued through 2019.
Hobbs also allegedly misrepresented himself as a licensed medical doctor, claiming he received a medical degree in 2004 from the University of Health Sciences of Antigua in the British West Indies. However, authorities say he obtained the degree falsely claiming to have completed required clinical rotations, according to the indictment.
He also reportedly listed a number he claimed was a U.S. Medical License number but actually was an “examinee ID” number he was assigned when he started to take steps toward a medical license, the indictment said.
In February 2019, an undercover FBI agent made an appointment at Power Med posing as an Anheuser-Busch InBev employee. Hobbs and some of his office staff allegedly told the agent how to apply for disability coverage and was given a document entitled “Disability Package Pricing,” which listed fees for “Social Security ($4,000), short-term ($4,000), Prudential ($6,000), long-term ($4,000), psych eval. ($1,000), 2 IV packages ($2,000), form fees ($125-$175), disability plates ($125) and insurance policy ($1,500), the indictment said.
The agent paid $1,000 for his first visit and agreed to pay the other part of the down payment, which he was told was 50 percent of the package, at his next appointment, according to the indictment.
The investigation also included analysis of patient bank records, the indictment said.
Conspiracy to defraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or both. Health care fraud and the theft of government funds each carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or both. Also, restitution to the victims is mandatory.
The weapons charge against Hobbs also carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or both.
The cases were investigated by the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General and the FBI.
Tracy Berry is handling Nenninger’s case. Berry and Dorothy McMurtry are handling the other cases for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.