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Man convicted of taking bingo money

A Fleming County jury has convicted a man accused of stealing money from his charitable gaming operation and using some of the money to pay living expenses.

Gerald E. Puckett, 52, of Flemingsburg was found guilty Tuesday on two counts of diversion of charitable gaming funds over $300. The jury recommended four years in prison for each count, according to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Gary W. Adkins. The sentences will run consecutively.

Prosecutors say Puckett and his wife, Joanne B. Colgan, 52, operated Kentucky Charities United Inc., a non-profit they established to obtain a bingo gaming license.

The couple conducted 10 bingo sessions with Lucky Bucks Bingo and made more than $15,005.89. But prosecutors said only $10,113.89 was deposited into a bank account. During the trial, defense attorneys attributed the missing money to bookkeeping errors.

About $950 was transferred from the charitable gaming operation to Feed God's Children Inc., another non-profit the couple managed. Investigators say that money was used to pay living expenses, including residential utilities, vehicle loans and vehicle insurance.

Colgan, who agreed to testify at Puckett's trial, has pleaded guilty to charges and is awaiting sentencing. She said that she knew their actions were wrong but that Puckett justified using the money from Feed God's Children for living expenses.

Puckett's attorneys said Colgan committed the criminal acts because her name was on most of the checks from Feed God's Children.

Puckett is being held at the Mason County Detention Center. His formal sentencing is scheduled for May 15.