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Charleston woman allegedly faked mother’s will, pocketed $1 million


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Police say a Charleston woman created a fake will for her dying mother, in order to cut her siblings out of an estate worth more than $1 million.

Tracie D. Wilson, 44, allegedly colluded with several others to create a fraudulent last will and testament for her mother, Joyce M. Johnson, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Johnson, who was 77 years old, was hospitalized in June 2015, suffering from “multiple serious medical conditions” and was “lethargic and suffering from a decline in mental status,” according to the complaint, filed by State Police First Sgt. S.E. Wolfe.

At the time, Wilson and her co-conspirators had discovered that Johnson’s estate was worth about $1 million. The estate was supposed to be divided equally between Johnson’s four children, according to the complaint.

Johnson died on June 27, 2015. After that date, according to the complaint, Wilson met with one of her co-conspirators, forged her dead mother’s signature and had the fake will certified by a notary public.

Two other people served as witnesses for the fake will, according to the complaint. Neither of them actually saw the will signed, and one of them knew the will was fake.

After the fake will was signed and notarized, Wilson filed it with the Kanawha County circuit clerk’s office. The will was made public on Aug. 6, 2015, according to the complaint.

Wilson then received “approximately $1,107,858.84,” which was the estimated appraisal of her mother’s estate at the time.

Police say the allegations against Wilson are all supported by statements from co-conspirators and witnesses, text messages, bank statements and other evidence.

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 his passing, the Kanawha City funeral home was sold to Chad and Billie Harding, which they renamed Harding Funerals & Cremations, according to Johnson’s obituary.

Wilson was arraigned in Magistrate Court Tuesday. She is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult; obtaining money, property and services by false pretenses; conspiracy to commit a felony; forgery of public record, certificate, return or attestation of court or officer; and computer fraud. All are felonies, and Wilson could face more than 40 years in prison and fines of more than $20,000 if convicted of all charges.

She was being held Tuesday at the South Central Regional Jail on a $25,000 or 10 percent cash bond.

Reach Carlee Lammers at [email protected], 304-348-1230 or follow @CarleeLammers on Twitter.

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