Director of Letcher Co. personal-care home indicted

WHITESBURG — A former Letcher County personal care home director will be arraigned Tuesday on a 74-count indictment alleging the theft of federal and state funds totaling nearly $500,000 meant to be used for disabled residents of Golden Years Rest Home.

On April 8, the Letcher County grand jury indicted James F. "Chum" Tackett, 68, a former mayor of Jenkins, Attorney General Jack Conway said Thursday.

In one case, according to the 40-page indictment, Tackett used the money to buy a diamond ring.

The indictment of Tackett includes numerous felony charges of theft and knowing exploitation of an adult, and involves activities that began in 2003.

Letcher Co. Golden Years Rest Home Inc. is named in 65 of the counts as a co-defendant on the grounds that crimes were committed or tolerated by its board of directors.

The grand jury also indicted Tackett's daughter, Kimberly Price, 42, for complicity to theft and knowing exploitation of an adult. Price, of Booneville, was the chairwoman of the board of directors at Golden Years.

The charges against Price stem from her involvement in the company in 2009.

She also is set for arraignment in Letcher Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The arrests of Tackett and Price follow a nearly seven-month investigation by Conway's office.

The charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

Personal care homes are different from nursing homes in that residents must be able to walk or otherwise be mobile and manage most activities of daily living. Residents also have to be 16 or older.

Tackett was still in custody Thursday, Letcher jail officials said. The attorney general's office said he was being held on a $500,000 cash bond.

Price, who was arrested April 23 by the Owsley County sheriff, was released after posting a $25,000 bond.

Price could not immediately be reached for comment.

This is not the first time Tackett has been under scrutiny for problems at Golden Years Rest Home.

Last June, Tackett received a sentence of 12 months in jail in the 2007 assault of a resident. He was put on probation for two years on the condition he not have any contact with Golden Years Rest Home. In that case, Tackett pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless abuse of an adult, the attorney general's office said.

According to a Type A citation issued by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in the 2007 assault, a resident who was not identified suffered a concussion and ear laceration. The resident told investigators that the administrator, who also was not identified in the citation, smacked him on the face, hit him in the head with a rubber hammer and then, with another staff member, caused "him to fall into a file cabinet."

A Type A is the most serious citation the state inspector general can give for violation of state regulations and indicates investigators think officials at a facility have placed a resident in imminent danger.

Also in 2007, while Tackett was the administrator, Golden Years received a Type A citation after resident Larry Bruce Huff, who was mentally ill, froze to death after wandering off from the facility. According to the citation, Golden Years officials did not call police for 17 hours after the home's staff discovered that Huff was missing.