Crime

Man accused of securities fraud in Lexington allegedly found investors at church

Kenneth Eugene Thomas approached David and Joretta Grow in church in 2005, wanting to sell them investment products through his company, RetireAmerica Inc., a civil lawsuit says.

Joretta Grow and her husband, who died last summer, eventually gave Thomas more than $1.29 million for investments, the suit filed in a Fayette County court said. The money has disappeared.

Lexington police say they've identified at least 10 victims who allegedly lost a total of more than $3.3 million through Thomas and RetireAmerica.

Other than Joretta and David Grow, however, no alleged victims' names have been made public.

Meanwhile, a Fayette County grand jury has indicted Thomas and three associates on charges ranging from theft to securities violations.

Thomas, 66, is charged with 11 counts, including theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition, and fraudulent or prohibited securities practices.

Shannon Kay Hurst, 30, who has been listed as a vice president of RetireAmerica on corporate reports, is charged with one count of theft by deception over $300 and one count of violating registration of securities rules.

Phillips J. Ash, 36, who has been listed as a vice president and director of the company, is charged with one count of violating rules for registered securities.

Roy Myers, 65, also is charged with one count of registered securities violations.

Thomas and Hurst are free on bond. Myers and Ash have not been arrested.

According to documents filed in the case in Fayette District Court, Lexington police investigators determined that Thomas had been accepting money from clients for investment purposes. However, the documents say, detectives found that "no such investments existed," and that "victims' funds were not invested as believed."

Joretta Grow sued Thomas and RetireAmerica and a related company, RetireAmerica Holding Inc., in Fayette Circuit Court in September, acting on behalf of herself and her husband's estate. Hurst, Ash, Jonathan David Thomas, and the estate of Albert J. Oldach also are listed as defendants.

According to records at the Secretary of State's office, Kenneth Thomas incorporated RetireAmerica Inc. in September 2005. He apparently also was associated with an earlier company of the same name that is no longer active.

Incorporation records list Kenneth Thomas as president, secretary and director of RetireAmerica Inc. But later reports at various times listed Jonathan David Thomas, Ash, Hurst and Albert J. Oldach Jr. as officers or directors.

From that 2005 meeting in the unnamed church until earlier this year, Grow and her husband wrote checks to RetireAmerica totaling $1,293,082.40, which was to be used for investments "including purchase of Kentucky bonds," according to the lawsuit.

When Grow contacted Thomas in early September in an effort to obtain money after her husband's death, Thomas "confessed to the plaintiffs' agent that no Kentucky bonds existed and that all of the plaintiffs' cash investments were gone."

Grow asked the court Monday for a default judgment, contending that Thomas has failed to file an answer to her lawsuit. She also is seeking a default judgement against Hurst.

Ash filed an answer to the suit stating he had acted in good faith, thinking that he was in "compliance with all state and federal laws."

Jonathan David Thomas filed a response stating that he was never an officer in RetireAmerica and cannot be held liable.

Oldach's estate filed a response contending that he was never a director.

Records also show that Kenneth Thomas incorporated RetireAmerica Holding in 2012. In addition, records show him as president of a company called QS Holding Inc. in Lexington. According to an online Securities and Exchange Commission form, QS Holding gave notice earlier this year of its intent to offer exempt securities without registration.

Phones at RetireAmerica's offices on Regency Road have been disconnected.

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