Klamath County man sent to federal prison for stealing missing, presumed dead mother's Social Security

An investigation began in 2015 after a neighbor reported that she had not seen 98-year-old Nadine Kirk in some time.

Posted: Sep 17, 2019 4:25 PM
Updated: Sep 17, 2019 5:01 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — A Bonanza man has been sentenced to just over one year in federal prison for taking social security benefits from his mother who disappeared nearly a decade ago, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon.

Court records indicate that a concerned neighbor contacted the Klamath County Sheriff's Office in July of 2015 about 98-year-old Nadine Kirk, who had not been seen for "multiple years."

A deputy went to the home that Nadine had shared with her son, 64-year-old Theodore Martin Kirk. Kirk said that his mother had "left with friends to travel to California" two months earlier, but wouldn't allow the deputy to come inside his house. Kirk made the same claim the next month while being interviewed by a detective.

"He added that it had been 'quite some time' since his mother had seen a doctor despite having suffered from multiple strokes," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "Kirk claimed to be suspicious of his mother’s medications and reported previously removing her from them. Further, he acknowledged that he shared a joint checking account with his mother, into which her monthly Social Security payments were deposited."

Later in August, the Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped the payments to Kirk's accounts. An SSA investigator found that the last transaction bearing Nadine Kirk's signature had been in January of 2010. Over the next five years, more than $1,000 in benefits were deposited to Kirk's account every month — and nearly every month, Kirk would take it all out in cash.

"All of the withdrawals from the account occurred in Oregon, not in California where Ms. Kirk was purported to be," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

In August of 2016, investigators searched the Kirk property, finding a detailed calendar that Kirk kept updated.

"Prior to 2010, the calendar included activities for both Kirk and his mother," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "The calendar revealed a series of strokes experienced by Ms. Kirk beginning in 2004 and continuing into the beginning of 2010, where the calendar showed she experienced two strokes in three days. Following the multiple strokes, there were no additional calendar entries for Ms. Kirk’s activities."

Kirk was convicted in March of this year on one count of Theft of Government Funds. At his sentencing last Friday, Kirk was ordered to pay more than $30,000 in restitution to the SSA, sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, and ordered to serve three years on probation.

The judge delayed entering judgment for a week to allow Kirk to reveal the location of his mother's remains, the U.S. Attorney's Office said, but Kirk did not give investigators any further information.

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