Richard Scott Harris now faces three years in prison after using a false name, birth date, and social security number to dodge a $40,000 medical bill for a gall bladder surgery he received in 2013.
This, however, was not the first time Harris had pulled such a scam.
His criminal history beganback in 1988, when he violated his parole or probation about 20 times; he has since been a “fugitive of justice” 11 times. Back in 2000, Harris claimed to be a “Joseph A. Schaffer,” and filed a compensation claim using the name, saying that he worked for a company that had never employed him. He was convicted of making a false claim for health care payments and of second-degree forgery. In 2009, Harris had run more than $16,000 in medical bills, and was convicted of identity theft after using a variation of his name upon checking in to the hospital.
His court appearance on March 17 for his latest scam was a long time coming. Since early 2014, Harris’s case had been set, cancelled, and rescheduled five different times, because the defendant claimed his medical problems were getting in the way. On three different occasions, he claimed to have suffered seizures or another medical emergency requiring him to go to the hospital. It was postponed so many times that according to the docket, the case “must go, no more continuances.”
During the court appearance, The Oregonian reports that Harris seemed to have a hard time accepting the fact that he was pleading guilty. Stephen R. Kelly, Harris’s attorney, had to explain to him that he couldn’t accept the plea, and still say he wasn’t guilty. He then asked his client to read the plea agreement, which he did, and then said “I’m done reading. It never changes.”
Harris pleaded no contest to aggravated identity theft — a charge in which may include a $100,000 fine on top of the criminal’s repayment amount in some states — and faces three years in prison. He will be sentenced on June 16 to accommodate his cancer and liver disease treatments.