The headline from 2008 reads “Altvater’s big idea lands her on TV.” That same big idea may soon land her in jail.
Darlene Altvater’s story was that of an inspiring risk-taker. She said she’d left her job as a postal worker to pursue her dream — opening her own gym for women.
Soon she branched out, offering hair and nail services, hand treatments, facials, massages, foot baths, teeth whitening and ear candling. What started as a gym became a combination gym and a spa — a one-stop shop for beauty, conditioning and pampering.
Business boomed and she moved to a new location almost twice as large as the original. She even scored an appearance on CNBC’s ‘‘The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.”
A 2008 story in Southern Maryland’s The Enterprise gushed about her upcoming appearance and her entrepreneurial spirit, explaining how she’d decided “the risk was worth the pay cut” involved in chasing the dream.
Turns out the pay cut wasn’t as severe as she led the paper to believe, but the risk may have been greater.
Last week a federal jury convicted Altvater on two counts of making false statements to obtain federal disability benefits.
Authorities say she’s been getting federal workers’ comp benefits since injuring her head and neck on the job in 2001. She opened the gym in 2005.
They say she continued to file forms claiming she was unable to work, but witnesses said she ran her facility with aplomb, coming to work every day, demonstrating how to use fitness equipment, and giving pedicures and massages.
She faces up to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each of the two counts. Sentencing will be in January.