Ex Mrs. Florida, Karyn Turk is headed to prison for stealing her mothers’ Social Security checks, according to a judge on Thursday.
The former Mrs. Florida 2016 and conservative media pundit, has been sentenced to a month in jail for stealing her late mother’s Social Security checks instead of spending the money on nursing home care.
A federal judge handed down the ruling on Thursday, saying that he wanted to send a message to Karyn Turk, 47, and anyone else contemplating Social Security fraud.
“You can’t steal from the government and not go to jail,” U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart said.
The 47year-old Palm Beach County resident will also have to spend five months on house arrest and complete 100 hours of community service, court records show.
Magistrate Bruce Reinhart has also ordered Karyn Turk to perform 100 hours of community service at a nursing home — a reminder of the time she never spent with her own mother who spent three years in a Lake Worth facility, ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease.
While Turk didn’t show any reaction to Reinhart’s decision, she and her lawyers sought to convince him that she has suffered enough and didn’t deserve house arrest, much less prison time.
“Choices in life have consequences,” Reinhart said, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Multiple outlets report that Turk and her lawyers tried to convince Reinhart that her crime didn’t warrant prison time. She had already pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and, according to WPLG, brought a $46,000 check to court to reimburse the government.
Reinhart, however, wasn’t swayed. Writing a check wasn’t enough to “buy her way out of jail,” he reportedly said.
Approximately six employees of the Finnish American Rest home, where Turk’s mother lived until she died in July at age 83, attended the sentencing, according to the newspaper. They believed Reinhart made the right decision.
“Resident exploitation is a serious crime and I’m glad he recognized that,” said Daniel Benson, the home’s executive director.
Turk used the money from her mother’s Social Security, Veterans Administration and pension checks to finance shopping sprees, restaurant dinners and a nanny, the newspaper also reported. Her mother, meanwhile, continued to rack up $219,000 in nursing home bills.
As for Karyn Turk, she’ll have to report to prison on March 2 unless she can convince an appeals court otherwise. It’s unclear if she plans to appeal Reinhart’s decision.
According to her website, Turk makes weekly appearances as a commentator on RT International, which she describes as “the first news channel on YouTube to receive over a billion hits.”
Since pleading guilty in September to a misdemeanor charge of Social Security fraud, she has been attacked on social media, said her attorney David Tarras.
Turk, who last year was named champion of the year by Best Buddies, a teen mentoring group, has lost her position on various philanthropic groups, he said.
The damage to her reputation and her status in political, business and social circles has been enormous, Tarras said.