A Philadelphia mom known for throwing back-to-back years of extravagant prom parties which cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars has been charged with welfare fraud, according to the Associated Press.
Prom is quite possibly the dumbest and most expensive American tradition to date.* Hundreds of dollars are typically spent on tuxedos and corsages for the boys while the girls spend even more on make-up, hair, and dresses for one night of awkward dancing. But, for Sheila Shuler, no cost was too much for her prom-send offs in 2017 and 2018.
In 2017, she threw a Dubai themed party for local high schoolers that cost $25,000. Then, in 2018, she spent 6 figures on a prom send-off party in honor of the movie 'Black Panther.' She even brought a live panther to the party. At the time, Shuler said she "had a contest this year that asked kids in her North Philadelphia neighborhood to send their report cards and essays explaining why they deserved to have an epic prom send-off" and ended up inviting 24 kids. Neighbors and parents supposedly pitched in for the audacious affair. Shuler dressed up as "as Queen Mother Ramonda" and party guests were entertained by African dancers and people wearing "custom costumes."
But, on Tuesday Agust 14th, "The U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia announced charges of wire fraud, theft of government funds and Social Security fraud." According to the government, "Shuler applied for benefits, describing herself as disabled and unable to work, but continued working — including operating a restaurant — costing the government more than $36,000."
Her attorneys argue that she "suffered a stroke, was in rehab and couldn't do anything for two-plus years."
According to The Root Beth Leahy, deputy chief of Health Care and Government Fraud for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said the alleged fraud has been going on since 2014. Leahy added, “You can’t take what’s not yours..she said that she was disabled and in terms of assets said that she only had $30 in her bank account. As far as quality of life, she said she rarely could make food for herself and had a cousin that cooked for her.”
Likewise, "If convicted, Shuler could face up to 140 years in jail, along with a period of supervised release, and will have to cough up some $36,785.67 to the government, on top of a fine and a special assessment."
A trial date has yet to bet set, but her attorney assures that “things are not always what they appear to be. These are just allegations without any meat or any substance.”
*Author's Note: I can say this with authority as I was the 2011 Nashua High School North Prom King. The only prom party I attended that night was Wendy's late night window and the subsequent hangout session in the parking lot, wolfing down frosties and #6 spicy chicken fillets. All in all, that party cost 12 bucks including gas money for my buddy, Jimmy. Go Titans. Beat South.