Auditor: Escort charges probably made by former KACo officials

Luallen: Evidence points to Arnold, Jenkins

ralessi@herald-leader.comOctober 30, 2009 

Two former Kentucky Association of Counties officials probably arranged for a Lexington escort service to send women to their hotel rooms on KACo's dime, state Auditor Crit Luallen said Thursday.

KACo's former executive director, Bob Arnold, and its 2008 president, Spencer County Judge-Executive David Jenkins, have denied that they authorized charges on their KACo-issued credit cards to an escort service that bills as Calypso Enterprises.

A $270 expense in May 2007 was charged on Arnold's card. And a $175 charge from Calypso appeared on Jenkins' account in February 2008.

"We found additional evidence that points to the likely use of these cards by the cardholders," Luallen said. But "I don't think we can be absolutely 100 percent certain."

While conducting a special examination of KACo, state auditors subpoenaed the escort service's records related to those charges. The contracts showed that the "performance location" matched the hotel rooms in which Jenkins and Arnold were staying on the dates of the charges.

The contracts also included personal information, including driver's license or other ID numbers and the home addresses for the men.

And the signatures "were consistent" with Jenkins' and Arnold's, said Brian Lykins, director of the office of technology and special audits.

Both men repaid KACo for the charges in July. Jenkins, who stepped down from KACo's executive board at that time, also repaid KACo $445 for charges at two Louisville strip clubs, the Godfather II and Thorobred Lounge I. Receipts for alcohol and two lap dances from one of the clubs showed Jenkins' signature and license number.

Both men have maintained that they didn't authorize the charges, and Arnold declined to be interviewed by Luallen's office.

Jenkins was interviewed but wouldn't comment on the charges.

"He told us he had said all there is to say about that," Lykins said.

Jenkins didn't return a call Thursday from the Herald-Leader.

Arnold's attorney, John L. Smith of Louisville, said Thursday he hadn't seen the audit but that "Bob still says someone used his credit card." Arnold learned of the charge when his wife saw that expense on a Herald-Leader database that was part of its review of KACo spending in June.

In July, Arnold sent a letter to KACo president J. Michael Foster saying he was repaying the money but wanted to be reimbursed "should it ever be determined who did make this charge."

Arnold was forced to resign Sept. 4 after a KACo board investigation of the charge couldn't clear him of making it.

"I don't have a crystal ball to know who did what," Foster said Thursday. "What is crystal clear is that those charges were extremely inappropriate, and we've dealt with it."

The charge on Arnold's card was made at 1:25 a.m. on May 16, 2007, at Lexington's Embassy Suites in room 111, according to the contract. That coincided with the three-day Spring Conference of Southern County Associations there, hosted by KACo.

The expense covered two women, whose agency names were Angel and Carrie, for two clients. Lykins said auditors don't know who the two clients were.

The escort charge on Jenkins' card stems from an appointment at 2:33 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2008, in which a woman using the name Vanessa came to room 484 at Lexington's Marriott Griffin Gate. That was the room Jenkins reserved using his Spencer County credit card for a conference in Lexington.

Lykins said a review of that bill showed that a call to the escort service was made from the room that morning.

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