LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against two parents accused of falsifying their child’s illness for profit.
Kristy and Erik Schneider of Saline County are accused of falsely receiving more than $31,000 in charitable contributions by misrepresenting their child’s health condition.
State prosecutors say the couple lied to medical providers and the general public for the donations, violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
“It is inconceivable that parents would endanger their innocent child’s health for their own profit and no child should ever be treated in this manner,” Rutledge said. “The Schneiders conned so many who gave thousands of dollars in honor of their ill child.”
According to the attorney general’s office, Kristy Schneider started posting updates to a website about the health of the child in February 2019 claiming the child had a rare chromosomal disorder and was dependent on feeding tubes and approximately 15 different medications to stay alive. She told her followers the child began to see several specialists.
“After seeing multiple specialists, trying everything possible, and consulting with doctors in multiple other states/facilities, it was determined that the recommended course of action was to come home on hospice care,” Kristy wrote in a post.
In subsequent posts, the Schneiders said they decided the child’s feeding tubes would be withdrawn to cause the minor to die a “natural death.” By this time, their story had a following in the public eye from law enforcement, concerned citizens, local news reports and others.
Prosecutors say that when the child returned to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for end-of-life care, the minor was accompanied by hundreds of law enforcement officers and first responders to fulfill his final wish to see as many first responders as possible before his death. This event was widely publicized and involved resources paid for by taxpayers in the form of hundreds of law enforcement officers from central Arkansas.
After returning to the hospital for end-of-life care, however, the child made an unexpected recovery. Doctors removed the feeding tube and gave the child nutrition, including liquids and popsicles, for a week and a half. They also reported the patient appeared to look better than the minor had in months.
Despite the positive development, the Schneiders forced doctors to put the child back on a feeding tube.
Soon after, doctors reported the child was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological disorder marked by attention-seeking behavior by a caregiver through those who are in their care.
Between gifts, meals, cash contributions, and medical transportation, state prosecutors say the Schneiders received $31,895 in donations from consumers. In Arkansas, each violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act could result in injunctions and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.