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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Klamath County Man Sentenced to 15 Months in Federal Prison for Stealing Missing Mother's Social Security Benefits

MEDFORD, Ore.—On Friday, September 13, 2019, Theodore Martin Kirk, 64, of Klamath County, Oregon, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for stealing more than $30,000 in Social Security benefits dispersed in the name of his elderly mother, Nadine Kirk. Ms. Kirk has been missing since March 2010 and is presumed to be deceased.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane announced his intent to sentence Kirk to 15 months in federal prison at a sentencing hearing on September 6, 2019, but held off on entering the judgement to allow Kirk one week to give the location of his mother’s remains to investigators. Kirk failed to produce this information and was formally sentenced on September 13, 2019.

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 Ms. Kirk as she had not been seen for multiple years. At the time of this call, Ms. Kirk would have been 98 years old. Shortly thereafter, a sheriff deputy visited the residence shared by Ms. Kirk and her son in Bonanza, Oregon. Kirk claimed his mother had left with friends to travel to California two months prior, but would not permit the deputy to enter his property to confirm his mother was not there.

In an August 2015 interview with a detective, Kirk again told law enforcement he believed his mother was in California with friends. He added that it had been "quite some time" since his mother had seen a doctor despite having suffered from multiple strokes. 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 suspended payments to the Kirk’s joint checking account based on Ms. Kirk’s unknown whereabouts. A Social Security investigator reviewed Ms. Kirk’s bank records and found that the last transaction bearing her signature was dated January 2010. From January 2010 until August 2015, over $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 where Ms. Kirk was purported to be.

In August 2017, investigators conducted a search of the Kirk property and recovered a detailed calendar kept by Theodore Kirk. Prior to 2010, the calendar included activities for both Kirk and his mother. 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.

During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane ordered Kirk to pay $30,868 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.

On March 13, 2019, Kirk was convicted at trial by a federal jury in Medford on one count of theft of government funds.

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.

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Component(s): 
Updated September 18, 2019