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Klamath County man found guilty of stealing from his mother's Social Security benefits

Theodore Kirk was found guilty by a federal jury Wednesday. His mother, who he stole from, has been missing for years.

Posted: Mar. 14, 2019 5:49 PM
Updated: Mar. 15, 2019 11:47 AM

MEDFORD, Ore.— A federal jury found a Klamath County man guilty of stealing more than $30,000 in Social Security on Wednesday. According to investigators, the money Theodore Kirk, 64, stole belongs to his mother, Nadine Kirk. She has been missing since March 2010 and is presumed to be deceased.

“This case began with a single tip from an observant community member and led to the discovery of a multi-year scheme to exploit the Social Security program—a critical tax payer-funded program supporting the nation’s elderly. Tips play an important role in law enforcement and help to reveal crimes that might otherwise go undiscovered,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon in a press release. 

According to court documents and information shared during trial, in July 2015, a concerned community member contacted the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office regarding the whereabouts of Nadine. This person claimed she had not been seen for multiple years.

Police visited the home she shared with her son. Kirk claimed his mother had left with friends to travel to California two months ago. He wouldn't let the deputy in the home to confirm his mother was not there. 

A month later, Kirk was interviewed by police again. He told officers he believed his mother was still in California. He added that it had been “quite some time” since his mother had seen a doctor despite having suffered from multiple strokes.

It was at this time he acknowledged that he shared a joint checking account with his mother, into which her monthly Social Security payments were deposited.

Later in August 2015, the Social Security Administration suspended payments to the Kirk’s joint checking account based on Nadine's unknown whereabouts. A Social Security investigator reviewed Nadine's bank records and found that the last transaction with her signature was dated January 2010.

From January 2010 until August 2015, more than $1,000 in benefits were deposited monthly into the joint checking account and nearly every month, Theodore Kirk would withdraw the entire amount in cash. All of the withdrawals from the account occurred in Oregon, not in California were Kirk told police Nadine was suppose to be.

In August 2017, investigators searched Kirk's property. They found a detailed calendar kept by Kirk. Prior to 2010, the calendar included activities for both Kirk and his mother. The calendar showed Nadine had a series of strokes between 2004 and 2010. The last dates recorded showed she had two strokes in three days. There were no more entries for Nadine after those strokes in 2010.

Kirk faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. He will be sentenced on Thursday, June 27, 2019 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General with the assistance of the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Adam E. Delph and Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

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