A former South St. Paul boys basketball coach died by suicide Monday, two days before he was set to be sentenced for pleading guilty to federal fraud charges.
The Mendota Heights Police Department said officers were called around 3 p.m. Monday for a possible suicide in the 600 block of Wesley Court, where they found McCollister dead inside his home.
McCollister leaves a wife and three kids behind, according to his Twitter account.
According to federal documents, McCollister was charged in December with felony conspiracy to commit health care fraud from 2016 to 2017. It states he was charged by felony information, a process by which a defendant agrees to waive a grand jury indictment and instead plead guilty.
McCollister left his position from the high school team in January, along with his student support assistant job, the Pioneer Press reported.
About a week after he resigned from his positions, he entered a guilty plea for the charges. According to the sentencing guidelines, McCollister would serve 10 to 16 months in prison. He also remained a free man prior to the sentencing.
Bring Me The News reached out to McCollister's attorney, Ryan Pacyga, for comment Tuesday.
The criminal complaint states that McCollister was a former lawyer who began practicing law in 2009. Around 2015, he began his own law practice that specialized in personal injury claims for those who were in car accidents.
McCollister then met unknowingly with a confidential informant who was working with the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau, after he was introduced to them by a chiropractor in 2016. The informant posed as a "runner," according to court documents. As defined in the complaint, "a runner is a person who gets paid to recruit patients who have purportedly been in car accidents to receive chiropractic treatment funded by automobile insurance."
McCollister met with the runner to discuss a plan regarding people who had been injured in car accidents. The runner would then bring the people to certain chiropractors, where McCollister would represent them through the connections. He then would "assert claims against automobile companies for purported bodily injuries resulting from the car accidents." McCollister offered to pay the "runner" about $300 or more for each patient brought to him.
According to Minnesota law, it is illegal to pay a "runner" to recruit patients to receive chiropractic care funded by car insurance. In addition, insurance companies have no obligation to pay claims of injured people who had been recruited by "runners."
Shortly thereafter, documents state McCollister represented two different patients — both undercover federal agents — in November and December of 2017.
One of the patients was directed to be "treated" by then-chiropractor Huy Nguyen, who according to federal court documents, was sentenced for his part in the conspiracy. Nguyen was sentenced to just under six years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. He is expected to be released from the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth on Dec. 16, 2022.
Prosecutors say McCollister sent two letters to Liberty Mutual Insurance, asking for a $25,000 bodily injury settlement for the two separate fake claims.
The Pioneer Press reports that McCollister was disbarred by the Minnesota Supreme Court prior to this charge, as he admitted to intentionally "misappropriating more than $16,300 in client funds from his trust account between July and December 2020."
To get help for thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.