She stole checks from her elderly mother. Now the ex-Mrs. Florida will head to prison.
By C. ISAIAH SMALLS II | Miami Herald | Published: January 11, 2020
MIAMI (Tribune News Service) — The former Mrs. Florida 2016, a 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, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Following her one-month stint behind bars, the Palm Beach County resident will also have to spend five months on house arrest and complete 100 hours of community service, court records show.
Where will those 100 hours be spent? A nursing home.
"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 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."
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