A Charleston woman who forged her mother’s will and tried to claim her entire estate, worth more than $1 million, was sentenced to home confinement Monday by a Kanawha County judge on Monday.
Circuit Judge Charles King sentenced Tracie Dean Wilson, 46, to spend between one and 10 years on home confinement, and ordered her to pay $61,856 in restitution for money stolen from her mother’s estate.
Wilson previously pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and uttering.
Kanawha Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rob Shulenberg said the criminal case against Wilson was delayed while the West Virginia Supreme Court considered an appeal in a civil lawsuit regarding the forged will.
Wilson, of Kanawha City, is one of the four children of Joyce M. Johnson, who died on June 27, 2015. Wilson forged a holographic will and submitted it to the county Office of the Fiduciary Supervisor in August 2015 in an attempt to take control and acquire all of the assets of her mother’s estate, Shulenberg said in a news release.
The will was dated for June 24, 2015, according to court records in the civil lawsuit.
The value of Joyce Johnson’s estate was $1.1 million, Shulenberg said. Wilson’s sisters, Tonya Parker and Tamra Stewart, filed a civil lawsuit against Wilson in Aug. 26, 2015.
Wilson admitted to signing her mother’s name to the holographic will after her mother died and to presenting it to the fiduciary supervisor’s office in the Kanawha County clerk’s office.
King ruled that the will was null and void, and he ordered Joyce Johnson’s estate be executed under state law as if she had not made any will.
Wilson appealed that decision, but the state Supreme Court upheld King’s ruling in an order it handed down in February.
Joyce Johnson was retired vice-president of J.E. Johnson Funeral Home, a firm her and her late husband, J.E. Johnson, established in 1960. After he died, the Kanawha City funeral home was sold to Chad and Billie Harding, which they renamed Harding Funerals & Cremations, according to Johnson’s obituary.
In February 2018, Putnam Circuit Judge Joseph K. Reeder sentenced Chad Harding to spend up to 30 years in prison for selling and cashing in on pre-need funeral arrangements for more than 100 people who weren’t actually dead.
Harding pleaded guilty to three counts of felony insurance fraud in November 2017.
Reeder also ordered Harding to pay $30,000 in fines and court costs.
In 2016, a federal judge ordered Harding to pay nearly $3 million to Homesteaders Life Insurance for similarly selling and cashing in on the pre-need funeral arrangements. U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers ordered Harding to pay three times the amount he and his wife, Billie Harding, bilked from the Iowa-based company between September 2012 and April 2015.
Later that year, lawyers for the insurance company filed notice that the judgment against the Hardings had been transferred from Homesteaders Life Insurance Co. to Clay Holding Co. LLC, of Belle, meaning the Hardings had to pay the debt to Clay Holding instead of Homesteaders.