Ex-administrator of Letcher personal care home pleads guilty

Tackett gets 2-year sentence for embezzlement at Golden Years

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comOctober 14, 2011 

James F. Tackett is accused of taking $500,000 intended for residents.

The former administrator of a Letcher County personal care home that was recently shut down by the state pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a charge that he took thousands of dollars from residents.

James F. "Chum" Tackett, who also was a former mayor of Jenkins, agreed to a sentence of two years and two days in prison. He also agreed to repay $113,547 that he admitted taking from residents, according to court documents.

Under terms of the agreement, Tackett pleaded guilty to one count of stealing government money for taking $5,500 cash in July 1, 2009 from a bank deposit of 28 Supplemental Security Income checks made out to Golden Years residents.

Tackett had been charged with 52 counts of stealing government money, according to an indictment.

The former administrator embezzled $113,547.00 from the residents' federal benefits, including 34 residents' economic-recovery payments, from January 1, 2006 to November 2009, according to court documents.

He had faced a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.

Because he accepted responsibility and his notice of intent to plead guilty was considered timely, Tackett was offered a reduced sentence, the plea agreement said.

The plea agreement, which was signed Monday, says Tackett converted to cash, for his own use, significant "less cash" amounts out of numerous deposits of federal and state benefit checks. The document says Tackett "owed a duty to residents" to see that their personal care needs were met and to see that the money sent from the federal government was properly applied to resident care.

Daniel Dotson, Tackett's attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Troubles at Golden Years include the death in 2007 of a resident who walked away from the home and froze, and several state violations.

Crippled by financial and resident-care issues, Golden Years began shutting down Sept. 30 under the direction of state officials and a court-appointed receiver.

The home's 27 residents were moved to new homes under the guidance of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

As part of another court case, Tackett has not been allowed to have contact with the home since 2009. His grandson Jonah Tackett took over as administrator and was charged in July with two counts of bribing a witness and other felonies in Letcher Circuit Court.

Tackett's daughter Kimberly Price also was charged in Letcher Circuit Court in April 2010 with several offenses regarding the personal care home, including complicity to theft by failing to make required disposition of property.

Price and the Tacketts have all pleaded not guilty to the state charges.

James Tackett also faces felony theft and other charges in Letcher Circuit Court in connection to Golden Years.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3409.

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