KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A St. Joseph, Missouri, man waived his right to trial and pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in an $8 million scheme that defrauded hundreds of members of a Christian health care sharing ministry.
Craig Anthony Reynolds, 61, pleaded guilty in federal court in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, to wire fraud and providing false statements on a personal tax return. The plea agreement calls for Reynolds to forfeit his gain from the scheme and property obtained through criminal activity, which includes two residences in St. Joseph, his bank account, a 2022 Harley Davidson motorcycle and pay $167,800 in restitution to the government.
He could also face up to 23 years in federal prison without the chance of parole.
According to federal investigators, Reynolds, who served as president and CEO of Medical Cost Sharing between 2014 and 2022, made “fraudulent promises” to convince hundreds of ministry members to partner in a Christian health care sharing ministry.
Investigators say Reynolds and his co-conspirators collected more than $8 million in “contributions” but only paid out 3.1% of the contributions in claims. They used the rest for their own personal enrichment.
Reynolds marketed his Medical Cost Sharing company through insurance brokers, radio stations, social media outlets and a website.
Federal prosecutors included one of the company’s marketing messages as part of the case, which read in part, “while we are not an insurance company, many think of us as a Christian Health Insurance, or Christian Medical Insurance because, like conventional insurance plans, we help you pay your healthcare costs. We help protect your family. But unlike these corporate, profit based plans, we are a healthcare sharing ministry … your healthcare costs are shared with other Christians enrolled in our medical sharing plans.”
Prosecutors say even when the company did pay a claim, it sometimes only came after a “member” filed a complaint with a state attorney general or other consumer watch dog organization. During one 10 month period between Feb. 2021 and Dec. 2022, the company brought in $1.2 million in dues but paid out no claims during the period.
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