Crystal Burgin-Woods, a (former) 43-year-old Municipal Court employee, pleaded guilty to stealing $185,000 from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, an insurance company whose motto is "live fearless," but not "live fraudulently."
Burgin-Woods was one of the many moving parts in an absurd scheme in which participants lied about their exercise regimens to exploit the insurance company's policy of rewarding people who work out (and are thus less likely to file claims for medical conditions associated with sedentary lifestyles) with gift cards.
Federal records indicate that 383 employees made bogus claims of things like doing marathons, triathlons and the like to get their hands on $185,665 worth of gift cards from Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Still, only a fraction of those receiving gift cards have been charged, and Burgin-Woods in the sixth employee to plead guilty to the insurance scam.
Federal prosecutors had charged Burgin-Woods with sending ridiculous fitness claims to the city's insureds or their family members so that they could get the gift cards. In some ways, it was amazing that the scheme went on as long as it did, considering that Burgin-Woods and others had, in some cases, padded their stats for bigger gift cards by claiming that employees' whose toddlers were covered under the insurance plan had finished marathons.
Employees from the city's Parks and Recreation, Fire, and Water Services departments have all pleaded guilty. They all face up to 20 years in prison.
Update: 10:17 a.m., October 31.
Kansas City spokesman Chris Hernandez tells us that Burgin-Woods is a former
city employee, as of October 17.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City acknowledges that hundreds of Kansas City employees played a part in scamming the city's insurance provider, but so far only five have had to answer to federal authorities, until a sixth did so on Wednesday.