Mother allegedly misuses $57K of daughter’s inheritance (SD)

A Mitchell woman has been arrested for allegedly misusing more than $57,000 in Social Security benefits that were intended for her juvenile daughter following the death of the child’s father.

Darla Kay Johnson, 54, was arrested April 29 by special agents of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the Davison County Sheriff’s Office.

She faces two federal counts regarding the theft of government funds and making a false statement, both coming after a federal grand jury indicted Johnson in February.

The Huron Social Security office sent Johnson multiple requests to provide an annual accounting of how much was received, spent and saved on her child. Failure to respond to the requests triggered concerns from the Social Security agency.

“Generally speaking, a parent is given the benefit of the doubt that they’re using all the money for the benefit of their child when that child is actually living with them,” said Lisa Wojda, Salt Lake City-based Office of the Inspector General resident agent in charge. “Unfortunately, unless somebody actually notifies Social Security to the contrary, we would not necessarily know that Darla is not spending all the money on the kid or that the kid is not living with her any longer.”

According to Wojda, Johnson claimed she spent all of the money received, but couldn’t provide receipts proving her expenses were used for her daughter’s benefit. In the case file, Johnson claims to have used the funds on cell phone bills and claims she bought her daughter a car. Her daughter did not have a driver’s license at the time the vehicle was allegedly purchased.

“There were some allegations as to what she claims she spent the money on, but it didn’t seem to really make sense based on the girl’s age and her abilities at that point,” said Wojda. “The cell phone is about all we can say that she likely spent the money on, and the rest of it presumably on Darla Johnson’s own expenses and entertainment.”

Johnson faces a maximum sentence upon conviction of 10 years and an unspecified fine for theft of government funds and a maximum of five years and an unspecified fine for making a false statement.

According to the Office of the Inspector General, Johnson allegedly misused $57,458 of Title II Social Security child insurance benefits between August 2005 and May 2012. The money was to be child insurance benefits paid to Johnson’s juvenile daughter following the death of her biological father, Dale Kritz, in 2004.

The alleged misuse began when the child was an 11-year old and ended when she was 17.

Following an initial appearance, Johnson was booked and released.

The trial is set for July and will be prosecuted in Sioux Falls by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


Mother allegedly misuses $57K of daughter’s inheritance
Evan Hendershot
May 5, 2015
The Daily Republic