An ultra-Orthodox mother of 10 was arrested on suspicion that for years she regularly injected some of her children with insulin so that they appeared to have diabetes in order to fraudulently claim hundreds of thousands of shekels in welfare benefits, police said Thursday.
Details of the case were cleared for publication following a months-long police investigation and the arrest earlier this month of the woman and her husband, both in their 30s, who live in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem.
They were receiving some NIS 15,000 ($4,100) each month in payments from the National Insurance Institute for five of their children who authorities believed were suffering from diabetes. They received some NIS 800,000 ($220,000) in total.
“I’ve been in the police force for 30 years. I have seen many difficult, serious things. This is one of the most shocking and difficult cases that I have seen,” said Doron Ben Amo, the investigation officer.
The mother is suspected of causing injury to helpless persons under aggravated circumstances, fraud, and forgery. She is expected to be indicted very soon. However, police and prosecutors have not yet decided whether the father, who claims he had no knowledge her actions, should be charged.
Suspicions were aroused when her one-and-a-half year old son was hospitalized in serious condition, and having seizures. Doctors at Shaare Zedek hospital operated on his brain and put a drain in his windpipe. During his recovery, his condition continually worsened and they struggled to stabilize him.
Staff noticed that his condition worsened whenever his mother was with him, and his blood sugar levels plummeted. However, when she was not present his sugar levels returned to normal. One of the nurses reported that she had seen a syringe in the mother’s bag.
The hospital called police who sought expert medical advice from a doctor who found that none of the ten children had diabetes, Hebrew media reported.
Police interviewed the children, who said that their mother taught them how to check their blood sugar levels several times a day and how to inject each other with insulin. A police spokesman said that the mother taught her children how to live as diabetics, even though they were healthy.
The mother remains in custody but the father was released last week. Police think that the father may not have known of his wife’s actions.
Hadashot news reported that the mother had cared for a diabetic child in the past and they think that is where she gained the knowledge to give her children the symptoms of diabetes.
Police also found that each time the mother received a diagnosis of diabetes for one of her children, entitling her to claim the insurance money, the same doctor signed the forms.
The mother denied any wrongdoing, claiming that she treated her children believing them to be diabetic.