Former Golden Years Rest Home administrator James F. “Chum” Tackett will serve a prison term of two years and two days and repay the federal government $113,547 in entitlement checks he stole from the personal care home’s residents if a plea agreement submitted this week is approved by U.S. District Court Judge Amul R. Thapar.
The plea agreement was signed Monday and filed Tuesday in Pikeville, two weeks before Tackett, 69, of Burdine, was scheduled to be tried on 52 counts of theft of federal money. The deal calls for Tackett to plead guilty to a single count of the indictment (Count 45) which charges him with stealing $5,500 in cash from a July 1, 2009 bank deposit of 28 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks made payable to the home’s residents. Tackett also admits that he stole at least $108,047 in other payments intended for residents between January 1, 2006 and November 2009.
“ The defendant embezzled $113,547 from the residents’ federal benefits including 34 residents’ Economic Recovery Payments,” says the agreement drawn up by U.S. Attorney Kenneth R. Taylor and Tackett’s attorney, Daniel F. Dotson of Whitesburg.
The maximum penalty for Tackett’s offense is 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $250,000. The agreement says that while Tackett “abused a position of trust,” his sentence is being reduced because of his “acceptance of responsibility” and his “timely notice of intent to plead guilty.”
The plea agreement calls for the $113,547 restitution to be paid “at or before his sentencing.”
The seven-page agreement also includes the following description of Tackett’s scheme to embezzle money from the home’s 40 disabled and elderly residents who were in need of personal care:
“Many of the residents of Golden Years were mentally infirm, some severely so. Other residents functioned at a higher level, but still required assistance in certain day-to-day tasks and/or assistance tending to their financial affairs.
“Residents were recipients of federal funds under several programs including federal disability payments under Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security retirement and disability funds, coal workers’ black lung disability under the Department of Labor’s Division of Coal Miner Workers Compensation, Veterans Administration pension funds, and railroad retirement funds.
“During the time period (of the crimes Tackett committed), Golden Years was funded entirely from federal and state funds. The residents of Golden Years assigned their SSI, Social Security and other federal checks to Golden Years to apply to the cost of their care.
“ The federal agencies which administered these programs mailed checks drawn on the United States Treasury to Golden Years where they were to be deposited into the operating account of Golden Years and applied to the care of the residents. The amount of these federal benefit checks was insufficient to cover the total cost of care. The shortfall was covered by funds from the Commonwealth of Kentucky under state programs.
“ While administrator, ( Tackett) had signature authority on the banks accounts in the name of Golden Years and he often personally made bank deposits of checks made payable to residents. (Tackett) converted to cash for his own use significant ‘less cash’ amounts out of numerous deposits of federal and state benefit checks.
“In the position of administrator, (Tackett) owed a duty to the residents of Golden Years to see that their personal care needs were met and that the money sent to Golden Years by the United States was properly applied to the cost of their care.”
Tackett, a former mayor of Jenkins and a former magistrate of District Five, is alleged to have stolen nearly $500,000 in state and federal funds combined. He still faces charges brought against him by the state after a seven- month investigation by the Office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.
Tackett’s daughter, 42-year-old Kimberly Price of Booneville, Ky., and a grandson, 25-year-old Jonah Tackett of Burdine, face lesser state charges ranging from complicity to theft to bribing a witness as a result of the attorney general’s investigation.
Golden Years Rest Home was established in Jenkins in 1969 but was shut down on September 29 after operating under court-ordered receivership since June 9. The 27 residents who still lived in the home were relocated to other facilities after officials determined there was no way to come up with $850,000 needed to renovate the building to bring it up to code.
Golden Years also owes at least $161,000 in unpaid power bills, food charges and bank notes. Thousands of more dollars are still owed in delinquent federal and state taxes.