OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MATT J. WHITWORTH
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
MARCH 20, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SPRINGFIELD COUPLE PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGALLY
RECEIVING SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Springfield, Mo., husband and wife pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving nearly $50,000 in Social Security payments to which they were not entitled.
Janice Sue Karnis, 59, and Kenneth David Karnis, 64, both of Springfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr this morning to theft of public money.
Janice Karnis’ mother, Opal Hanson, was receiving Social Security benefits via direct deposit to her bank account at the time of her death on Nov. 25, 2003. The Social Security Administration never received a report of Hanson’s death, and her Social Security benefit payments were not stopped.
Both Janice and Kenneth Karnis were signatories on Hanson’s bank account and received bank statements mailed to Kenneth Karnis’ place of employment.
By pleading guilty today, both Janice and Kenneth Karnis admitted that they regularly accessed Hanson’s bank account from the time of her death until at least November 2007, and converted the benefit payments, to which they knew they were not entitled, to their own use. The financial loss to the government, in benefits wrongfully paid after Hanson’s death, was approximately $49,827
Under federal statutes, Janice and Kenneth Karnis are each subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at