From the U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida:
Ocala, Florida – Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces that Susan Marie Kort (61, Ocala) today pleaded guilty to an indictment charging her with theft of government funds. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and will be required to pay $35,577.60 in restitution to the Social Security Administration (SSA). A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court documents, Kort’s elderly father passed away at his Lake County residence in approximately November 2011. After discovering the body, she buried her father in the backyard of her Eustis home. Kort never reported the death to authorities. Over the next two years, she used forged checks and a power of attorney for her father’s financial affairs to withdraw and spend the SSA benefit payments that were being direct-deposited into his bank account. The SSA eventually suspended these benefit payments in December 2013, when they were unable to contact Kort’s father.
Inquiries into the father’s well-being by other relatives prompted a law enforcement investigation in late 2016. When confronted by investigators, Kort admitted to hiding her father’s body and to defrauding the SSA by unlawfully taking his benefit payments. Kort eventually led investigators to her father’s grave at her residence. Subsequent DNA testing confirmed the identity of the remains as Kort’s father.
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration—Office of the Inspector General and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.