Man sentenced for trying to help wife fake death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia man accused of helping his wife try to fake her death to avoid being sentenced for health care fraud has been sentenced to eight months in prison.

Rodney Wheeler of Beckley was sentenced Monday in Charleston federal court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors said Wheeler and his wife, Julie M. Wheeler, came up with a plan to keep her out of prison.

Rodney Wheeler told authorities in a phone call last May 31 that she had fallen from an overlook at the New River Gorge, prompting a massive search. He repeatedly gave false statements to state and federal investigators, prosecutors said.

State Police later found Julie Wheeler hiding in her home.

She was sentenced last June to three years and six months for fraud related to overbilling. In February she received an additional year for conspiring to obstruct justice and will serve the sentences consecutively.

Doormen fired for failing to intervene in NYC attack

NEW YORK — Two New York City apartment building workers have been fired for failing to help an Asian American woman as she was being violently attacked on the sidewalk outside, the building’s management company said Tuesday.

Surveillance video of the March 29 attack near Times Square showed that the doormen didn’t step outside and approach the woman until more than a minute after the violence stopped and the assailant walked away.

The men watched from the lobby as 65-year-old Vilma Kari was repeatedly kicked and stomped, the video showed. One of them closed the building’s door as Kari lay on the ground seconds after the attack ended.

The building’s management company, The Brodsky Organization, initially suspended the doormen pending an investigation. That investigation was completed on Tuesday and the doormen were fired, the company said.

“While the full lobby video shows that once the assailant had departed, the doormen emerged to assist the victim and flag down an NYPD vehicle, it is clear that required emergency and safety protocols were not followed,” the company said in a statement.

The Brodsky Organization also pledged to give all building services employees training on emergency response protocols, anti-bias awareness and bystander intervention.

The doormen’s union, SEIU 32BJ, said the workers are challenging their terminations under a grievance process outlined in their collective bargaining agreement. The process can take months, the union said.

“We believe we must root out systemic racism in all its forms,” 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg said in a statement. “We believe that all union workers, especially workers of color who are often the subject of unfair treatment on the job, have a right to a fair process as outlined in their contract.”

The union previously said that the doormen waited until the attacker walked away to check on Kari and flag down a nearby patrol car because they thought he had a knife.

The surveillance video shows a police car pulling up about a minute after the doormen went outside. The workers and officers are seen with her on the sidewalk for several more minutes before the video cuts off.

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