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Press Release

Tama Woman to Federal Prison for Stealing from Disabled Relative

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

 A woman who spent her disabled relative’s entire trust fund was sentenced on November 2, 2023, to more than two years in federal prison.

Nancy Lee Johnson, age 69, from Tama, Iowa, received the prison term after a May 1, 2023 guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. Information from Johnson’s plea agreement and sentencing showed that in November 2017, Johnson petitioned the Meskwaki Tribal Court to become the guardian and conservator of her disabled relative, L.J.  In doing so, she swore that she would faithfully discharge the duties of a guardian and conservator, which included protecting, preserving, and prudently investing the estate of L.J.  At the time, L.J. had a trust fund valued at more than $360,000.  L.J. also received per capita pay from the Meskwaki tribe and Social Security benefits. The court recognized Johnson as L.J.’s guardian and conservator in February 2018. 

As early as December 2017, she began to transfer money from L.J.’s trust fund to other accounts and by November 2018, the balance of L.J.’s trust fund was $0.  In March 2018, Johnson activated a debit card for an account she opened in L.J.’s name.  She had the only copy of the card.  Johnson used that card to make unauthorized purchases, which included the purchases of two purebred dogs and multiple pieces of jewelry.  During the time that she was his guardian and conservator, L.J.’s assets totaled at least $416,043.73.  In August 2019, when the Meskwaki Tribal Court terminated Johnson’s guardianship and conservatorship, L.J.’s funds had been reduced to $1,871.38.        

Johnson was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Johnson was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment.  She was ordered to make $387,213.40 in restitution to her relative.  She must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Johnson was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal on November 27, 2023.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kyndra Lundquist and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 22-CR-0086.

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Updated November 7, 2023

Financial Fraud
Indian Country Law and Justice