Personal care home operator seeks to halt action against him

Lawyer says Conway acted 'unethically' in ordering Golden Years to be dissolved

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.com bmusgrave@herald-leader.comAugust 23, 2011 

The former administrator of a troubled Letcher County personal-care home is asking the Kentucky Court of Appeals to halt proceedings to liquidate and dissolve the corporation that formerly operated the home.

At the request of Attorney General Jack Conway's office, Letcher Circuit Judge Samuel Wright ordered in June that a receiver be appointed to oversee day-to-day operations of Golden Years Rest Home. The order also barred former administrator James Tackett or any board members of Golden Years from interfering with the home.

Linda Bell, who was appointed receiver of the home on the recommendation of Conway's office, told Wright during an Aug. 12 hearing that the home's debts exceeded its income.

Additionally, Bell and Conway's office recommended that a Paintsville for-profit corporation headed by William Shackleford take over operations of Golden Years on a 12-month lease. Wright said during the Aug. 12 hearing that he would determine soon whether to follow Bell's and Conway's recommendation to turn over the home to Shackle ford's company.

On Friday, Tackett's attorney, James Asher of Whitesburg, filed a motion with the court of appeals asking it to issue a temporary order "directing the circuit court to cease the liquidation and involuntary dissolution of Golden Years and to prohibit the actions by the receiver" pending a court of appeals hearing.

He requested that the court of appeals order an independent and neutral receiver.

Tackett faces federal and state charges for allegedly taking more than $500,000 from money intended for the residents who lived at Golden Years. He has pleaded not guilty. After an altercation with a resident in 2009 and a conviction of abuse, Tackett's probation included a provision that he not have contact with the home.

His grandson Jonah Tackett, who took over for James Tackett as administrator, was charged in July with two counts of bribing a witness and other felonies. He was set to be arraigned Monday in Letcher Circuit Court.

In addition to the criminal proceedings, Golden Years has been cited for numerous health and safety violations regarding its care of residents. A personal care home houses people who need less skilled care than a nursing home. Many times, the people have mental illnesses or mental disabilities.

In a document supporting his motion to halt the liquidation of Golden Years, Asher said the circuit court erred in issuing a temporary injunction and appointing the receiver.

"The Attorney General is acting inappropriately and unethically and under a conflict of interest by pursuing both civil and criminal proceedings," the document said.

Asher alleges that there were several procedural irregularities in the case, including that Bell was never required to post a bond when she was appointed receiver and that she was not independent from the attorney general's office. Bell often received the office's advice, rather than acting independently, court documents allege.

Bell said Monday that the attorney general's office has been an adviser for the home because the home has no money to hire legal representation.

Conway spokeswoman Allison Martin said Asher and James Tackett had no legal standing to challenge the court decision because James Tackett has resigned from his position at Golden Years because of his legal troubles.

The office followed procedures outlined in state statutes that govern liquidation of non-profit assets, Martin said.

"The attorney general's actions to place the non-profit into liquidation and receivership are authorized by law and are necessary to protect the health and safety of the residents of Golden Years Rest Home," she said.

There were 28 residents at the home Monday, according to Bell.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 and Beth Musgrave at (502) 875-3793.

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