An Arnold woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to bilking an insurance company out of $100,000 by falsely claiming her young son was hospitalized more than a dozen times.
Shirley Rae Owens, 30, of Club Road, entered the plea before Judge William C. Mulford II in county Circuit Court in Annapolis.
Owens, who has no criminal history, faces up to five years in prison at sentencing Jan. 9.
The conviction stems from a theft scheme from September 2008 to July 2010.
Owens was employed by a local State Farm Insurance agency when she purchased her own hospital income policy in January 2005, said Assistant Attorney General Timothy Lake, of the Insurance Fraud Unit.
Owens at one point was the manager of the agency and had experience in processing claims under hospital income policies, Lake said. She also had access to internal cover sheets used to file claims.
In February 2007, Owens resigned from the agency after giving birth to twins, a boy and girl. Lake said the infants had complications at birth and the infant boy continued to have medical issues.
Owens' policy included a $250 per day benefit for any hospital stays for Owens and covered family members. Lake said legitimate claims were filed for the boy's hospital stays, with the correct internal cover letters through June 2008 filed at Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital in Baltimore.
The boy did not have any additional hospital stays. But from September 2008 to July 2010, Lake said, State Farm Insurance received and paid out 14 claims stating that the boy had been held overnight at the children's hospital.
The claims were filed using expired cover sheets and were not faxed from the local office. Lake said Owens' agent was unaware of the claims.
Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital verified that the billing information was counterfeit and that the boy had not stayed overnight since June 2008.
Owens fraudulently claimed her son had 395 overnight stays at the hospital, totaling $99,500 in benefits, plus $750 in additional benefit checks mailed directly to Owens' Arnold home.
Owens was charged with 13 counts of theft, including theft over $100,000.