A former Mrs. Florida faces time in jail after she stole her mother’s social security checks to use for her own gain according to the Naples Daily News. Karyn Turk recently pleaded guilty to the Florida Social Security fraud and now faces one month of jail time, five months of house arrest, and over 100 hours of community service.
According to Detective Vaughn Mitchell of the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office, the Florida social security fraud case detailed over $219,000 of Social Security and Veteran’s Administration that Turk diverted to her own account for shopping sprees, expensive dinners out, and nannies rather than pay the outstanding nursing home debt of the same amount. Additionally, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Rabinowitz told reporters that Turk also refused to make any attempt to cover her mother through Medicare despite constant requests.
At one time before Turn was arrested for the Florida Social Security fraud case, the nursing home caring for Turk’s mother brought her to court in an attempt to get Turk to pay for her mother’s care. In Aug. 2018 Turk was ordered by the court to pay $250 every month to stymie the growing debts. Despite living an oppulent wife as the husband of an attorney, Turk still refused to make the payments. A similar court order was ignored to compel Turk to purchase clothing for her mother.
Finally, Turk was arrested for the Florida Social Security fraud and she was brought before U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart. After accepting her guilty plea, Reinhart sentenced Turk to one month in jail for defrauding the U.S. government followed by five months of house arrest and 100 hours of community service at a nursing home as “a reminder of the time she never spent with her own mother” while she suffered from Alzheimer’s.
During the sentencing of the Florida Social Security fraud hearing Turk is described as showing no emotion or reaction to the court’s decision. Shortly following the sentencing, however, Turk and her lawyers began a vehement protest to the ruling arguing that the house arrest and jail time were cruel and unusual punishment for her crimes.
According to Turk and her representatives, the fallout of the Florida Social Security fraud case has dealt devastating damage to Turk’s reputation and status in political, business and social circles. Additionally, they argue that without the ability to “hob-nob” in the community and travel to interview celebrities for YouTube broadcasts and fundraisers, her career is in serious jeopardy. One of Turk’s representatives, David Tarras argues that “Her livelihood is based on networking and being a social media commentator.” Tarras claims that since Turk came to court with a check for $46,000 to reimburse the government for the money she stole she should be off the hook completely.
Tarras also said that Turk couldn’t explain her reasons behind committing the Florida Social Security fraud because of her ongoing litigation against her mother’s nursing home, which she claimed was neglectful in its treatment of her mother and responsible for her death. The nursing home is counter suing on the grounds that they cared for he mother the best they could despite Turk blatantly refusing to pay $219,000 in costs despite numerous court orders to do so.
In early January, a judge also gave Turk’s late mother’s court-appointed guardian permission to take steps to remove Turk as the personal representative of her mother’s estate. According to the judge, Turk’s criminal conviction figured prominently in that decision.
Judge Reinhart has disagreed with Turk’s defense of her actions in the Florida Social Security fraud. While he did concede that Turk had lived a law-abiding life and done good works, he said her crime was a serious one as well as a completely unnecessary one considering her ample personal wealth. Judge Reinhardt told reporters he stood by his punishment and that Turk shouldn’t be able to “buy her way out of jail” by writing a check.
In regards to claims on her mother’s estate, Judge Reinhardt emphasized that a circuit judge should decide if Turk retains control but he also barred her from having control over anyone’s money. Turk is set to enter jail to begin serving time for the Florida Social Security fraud conviction on Mar. 2, 2020, unless she can convince an appeals court to overturn the guilty plea.
For more information about the financial exploitation of nursing home residents and how to prevent it, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys’ Financial Exploitation Page.