Administrator of Letcher personal-care home pleads guilty to theft, exploitation

He stole $300,000 from residents

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comNovember 2, 2011 

James F. Tackett. Photo Provided by Letcher County Jail

FRANKFORT — The former administrator of a now-shuttered personal care home admitted that he stole $300,000 intended for disabled residents and used some of that money to buy trucks for himself.

James "Chum" Tackett, 69, of Jenkins pleaded guilty Tuesday in Letcher Circuit Court to theft, exploitation and tax-evasion charges. Tackett was expected to go to trial on those charges Tuesday. As part of his guilty plea, Tackett admitted that he took more than $300,000 from mentally ill and disabled residents at the home. Golden Years was shut down by Attorney General Jack Conway's office and state health authorities this fall because of ongoing concerns about the non-profit's financial health and poor living conditions in the Letcher County home.

A news release from Conway's office said Tackett admitted that he stole more than $300,000 and used the money to buy a GMC Hummer, a Chevrolet Silverado, a Ford F-150 and a Suzuki XL-7. About $60,000 was stolen from one Golden Years resident, Conway's office said.

Meanwhile, conditions at the personal care home, which provided long-term care for residents who did not need full-time nursing home care, were deteriorating. State inspections found expired medicines, the building in disrepair and no milk for residents because the food bill had not been paid.

Tackett pleaded guilty last month to federal charges relating to missing federal stimulus checks intended for residents there. Tackett agreed to a sentence of two years and two days in prison on the federal charges. He also agreed to repay $113,547 that he admitted taking from residents, according to federal court documents.

Conway's office began investigating conditions at Golden Years after a 2009 complaint from a long-term care ombudsman. The ombudsman reported that several residents at Golden Years had never received their $250 stimulus checks. Tackett also had pleaded guilty in 2009 to physical abuse of a resident there.

Golden Years has since been closed, and its residents have been moved to other care homes.

Tackett faces up to 10 years in prison on the state charges. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23 in Letcher Circuit Court.

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