How a court appointed guardianship landed a Florida beauty queen in federal prison

Juliette Fairley

When conservative media pundit Karyn Turk was charged with social security fraud, she agreed to six months probation, but the Department of Justice failed to uphold the plea deal and the 49-year-old served thirty days in the maximum-security Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Miami.

“It’s where they put drug dealers, murderers, and manslaughterers and I roomed with some very interesting people,” she said.

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Karyn Turk's bookKaryn Turk

It was Turk’s elderly mother’s probate-court-appointed guardian who reportedly initiated the federal misdemeanor charge against the former beauty queen, who stood accused of misreporting $17,300 of her mother’s social security income.

“Karyn loved her mother and her mother loved her so it’s just despicable that somebody would try to make a record like that against somebody who's innocent of it,” said Peter Ticktin, who is one of Turk’s attorneys and author of the book What Makes Trump Tick: My Years with Donald Trump from New York Military Academy to the Present.

The Department of Justice charging documents stop short of explaining exactly what Turk spent the money on but the married mother of four children claims she used the funds to pay for private duty aids and care items for her mother, Mrs. Ilse Schafer, who was confined to a care center in Palm Beach County, Florida.

“I witnessed my mother have bruises on her face and arms that were unexplainable and bed sores when the autopsy was done,” Turk said. “That’s why I brought in private duty aids for her.”

West Palm Beach Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Rabinowitz did not respond to requests for comment.

In a letter to then U.S. Attorney General William Barr and current Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Ticktin tried to hold the federal agency accountable to the plea deal.

“You want people to make deals so you make a deal and then you change the terms of the deal or you pull a trick on them where it turns out that they end up having to do time when that was never really a consideration,” he said. “It’s just wrong. Karyn was treated unfairly.”

Ticktin added that he did not receive a response from either Barr or Moody.

"If your assistant U.S. Attorneys continue to exercise their prerogatives and make agreements which they then inspire the judges to exceed, people charged with crimes will no longer trust in the integrity of the system to honor the plea deals which are vital to the system,” Ticktin wrote in the letter to Barr and Moody.

The letter, however, didn’t alter Turk’s fate.

“They wanted to make an example out of me,” said Turk who was adorned Mrs. Florida in 2016. “I followed Donald Trump around on the campaign trail in my sash and crown. I suspected they would politicize the misdemeanor charge but to me, it was about a nursing home that wasn't caring for my mother and lawyers that railroaded her into guardianship and me trying to fight back against the system.”

The guardian, appointed by Palm Beach County Probate Court, was allegedly able to gain full control of Turk’s mother's assets after Turk reported the care center to the Florida Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

“Everybody in this racket works with everybody else,” said Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG) in Hollywood, Florida. “You call an agency or an organization for help but wait until you find out that the agency you called is working against you because they are getting some kind of benefit. Then, the entire system unravels before your eyes, and your faith in America and its courts is ripped away.”

After being released from prison with an ankle monitor, Turk was on probation for a year. Despite having a criminal record now, Turk is a co-host on Real America’s Voice television network along with Ed Henry whom Fox News terminated two years ago following sexual misconduct allegations which he denies.

“They criminalized Karyn Turk for a misdemeanor and in hundreds and hundreds of other probate guardianship cases, the damage that's done from these guardianships affects at least three generations of people in a family,” Sugar said. “You cannot fight with probate court insiders. It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight.”

Turk subsequently sued the care center in the 15th Judicial Circuit Court of Palm Beach County after her mother died of Alzheimer’s in 2019. The parties settled out of court in February.

“Probate guardianship depends on gas lighting,” Sugar added. “It is a major feature of the abuse that occurs to family members because you would never imagine your successes in life, like being Mrs. Florida, could hurt you. It knows no ethical boundaries whatsoever.”

Turk has since written a book about her experience called Behind the Headlines, which was forwarded by Roger Stone Jr. whom Trump pardoned after a jury convicted him on seven felony counts of witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and making false statements in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“Our court system at this point is so perverted that it has to be completely overseen and dismantled in a way that serves the American people,” Turk added. “Every single American should be concerned with the fact that you can lose your civil rights to a stranger and it doesn't matter how much legal planning you do. Your wishes are not respected and your civil rights are restricted.”

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Juliette Fairley is a legal and financial investigative reporter who writes about politics, law, corruption, and many other topics. She is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Chicago City Wire, Legal Newsline, Southern California Record, St. Louis Record, New York Daily News, Dallas Express, Dallas City Wire, the Lone Star Standard, The Epoch Times, Newsmax, and many other publications.

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