Man impersonates rock stars to get out of paying medical bills
St. George, UT (KSTU) -- A Minnesota man faces fraud charges in Utah after giving the name of a famous '70s rocker while getting treatment at Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Court documents allege 54-year-old Phillip Michael Schaeffer received medical treatment three different times between 2010 and 2013. One time he used the name Alex Lifeson, guitarist for the Canadian band Rush. The other two times Schaeffer posed as David Gilmour, guitarist and singer for the band Pink Floyd.
DRMC spokesperson Terri Draper said they can't go into detail about the treatment Schaeffer received, but Draper said there were some red flags that made employees take a closer look.
\"A couple of our employees noticed inconsistencies which prompted them to a little bit of informal investigation,\" Draper said. \"It showed enough that they were concerned enough to invite local authorities to pursue the matter further.\"
Those investigations showed Schaeffer had racked up $23,328.27 in medical bills under the name Lifeson and $15,067.50 posing as Gilmour. Charging documents indicate investigators found Schaeffer conducted the same ruse in Minnesota. There he went so far as to sign autographs and created elaborate stories as to why the rockers were in the area.
Prosecutors are charging Schaeffer with two counts of communication fraud, which is a second-degree felony. Schaeffer was scheduled for an initial appearance on Tuesday, but didn't show. Prosecutors found out that's because he's currently incarcerated in New Mexico.
It's unclear why Schaffer felt the need to deceive staff, particularly when hospitals have policies about turning people away in need of emergency care.
\"We treat those who come to us in need as a part of our mission,\" Draper said. \"So there really is no reason for anyone to come for care and feel like they need to change their identity, or manufacture something to receive care.\"
Because Schaeffer failed to appear in fifth district court on Tuesday, judge Eric Ludlow ordered the arrest warrant originally issued in July will remain in effect.