Former Letcher personal care home director sentenced in circuit court

February 23, 2012 

A circuit court judge has sentenced the former director of a Letcher County personal care home that the state shut down last year.

James F. "Chum" Tackett. 70, pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to 10 years probation and ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution on state felony theft and exploitation charges.

Thursday's sentencing, follows a two-year federal prison sentence Tackett received on Feb. 16 stemming from the theft of Social Security funds while operating Golden Years Rest Home. Tackett reports to federal prison in April, according to U.S. District Court records, and will serve the 10 years probation when he is released.

On Thursday, Special Letcher Circuit Judge Ron Johnson ordered Tackett to pay a total of $340,000 in restitution to various victims, including former residents of Golden Years Rest Home, former employees of the facility and the Kentucky Department of Revenue, according to a statement from Attorney General Jack Conway's office.

A personal care home houses people who need less skilled care than a nursing home. Often the residents are living with mental illnesses or mental disabilities.

Tackett's conviction marks the end of a nearly three-year investigation and prosecution by Conway.

"I am glad to see this tragic case come to a close," Conway said in the statement. "The residents of Golden Years Rest Home suffered while Mr. Tackett spent money intended for resident care on new vehicles, property and a lavish lifestyle."

Tackett admitted used the residents' money to buy a GMC Hummer, a new Chevrolet Impala, a Ford F-150, and a Chevrolet Silverado.Tackett also used the money to pay mortgages on property he owned personally, the statement said.

In one instance, Tackett took close to $60,000 from a Golden Years resident who received a settlement from a lawsuit involving a medication. Tackett admitted stealing that money, leaving the resident with only about $2,000, according to the statement.

Under a plea agreement, Tackett, the former mayor of Jenkins, paid $100,000 in restitution Thursday and will pay the remaining $240,000 to former residents and the Kentucky Department of Revenue while on probation.

Lawyers representing James Tackett could not immediately be reached for comment.

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

Beset with 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.

As part of another court case, Tackett received an order in 2009 that he not have contact with the home. His grandson Jonah Tackett took over as administrator and was was indicted in July 2011 on charges of bribing a witness and tampering with a witness. Jonah Tackett has pleaded not guilty.

Conway's Office of Special Prosecutions is handling the indictment against Jonah Tackett, officials said Thursday.

Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears

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