A DHS worker kept hidden from the federal government that a disabled adult had died so she could get his monthly benefits checks and use the funds “for her personal benefit,” prosecutors allege.
Katharine A. Daugherty, 57, of Bethany, is charged in Oklahoma City federal court with wire fraud.
Because of the scheme, the U.S. Labor Department was cheated out of more than $27,000, prosecutors allege.
Daugherty retired from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in August 2011 after learning she was under investigation. She was an adult protective services specialist IV.
Her attorney, Irven Box, said she has accepted responsibility for her actions and intends to plead guilty to the felony charge. A hearing is set for Wednesday.
Daugherty oversaw the finances of a former Federal Aviation Administration worker who was injured on the job in 1976. A judge made DHS the man's guardian when he was admitted to a Bethany nursing home in April 2009.
Because of his injury, the man was entitled to federal monthly disability compensation benefits until death.
Prosecutors allege in the charge that Daugherty failed to notify the U.S. Labor Department when the man died March 13, 2010. Instead, according to the charge, she forged his signature a month after his death on a benefits eligibility statement and then falsely represented to the Labor Department that he “was still living in a nursing home.”
She later faked a court guardianship order and sent it by fax to the Labor Department to continue the scheme, prosecutors allege.
The Labor Department continued to make the monthly benefits payments for more than a year after the man's death before the scheme was uncovered, according to the charge.
Prosecutors want to take funds from her state retirement account to cover the loss.
Daugherty already is on probation. She pleaded guilty in January in Oklahoma County District Court to a felony bogus check charge. She paid $3,005 in restitution.
She worked at DHS from December 1979 to June 1985 and again from November 1986 to August 2011, a DHS spokeswoman said.
She was earning $41,618 per year at the time of her retirement.