Letcher Circuit Judge Sam Wright has appointed a special grand jury to investigate whether regulatory agencies appropriately supervised Golden Years Rest Home in Jenkins before civil and criminal matters emerged.
Wright first ordered the 44-bed personal care home into receivership on June 9 at the request of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who filed a lawsuit earlier that day seeking the involuntary dissolution of the company which operates the rest home, Letcher Co. Golden Years Rest Home, Inc., and its five-member board of directors. Conway said the action was necessary “to protect the residents and interests” of the home.
During a July 1 hearing held to determine whether the temporary restraining order should remain in place, a state auditor testified that a review of bank records from 2005 through 2009 shows that more than $250,000 is missing from rest home accounts.
“The Attorney General before they took over said they contacted the investigating and supervising agencies,” Wright told the grand jury in open court August 11. “There were no investigations. No citations. After we try to salvage it and try to improve it, there have been a multitude of citations all of a sudden coming out.”
Wright said there are matters that either should have been investigated or supervised and something done about them before the court was asked to appoint a receiver.
“That disturbs me,” he said. “I want to know why they are not protecting the most vulnerable of our citizens, the ones that are disabled there. There needs to be a full investigation on this.”
Wright converted the sitting Letcher County Grand Jury into a special grand jury with the direction to complete all aspects of the investigation, including finding an answer to the question of whether there was “appropriate supervision by the regulatory agencies and if there was appropriate supervision why were these things not pursued before the court took over and tried to salvage it and make it safer and better for the residents?”
Wright told the grand jury it has heard an abundance of evidence about Golden Years Rest Home and has the knowledge and background that make the members of the grand jury better suited to conduct the investigation.
The special grand jury has yet to formally begin its investigation.
The grand jury met eight months and had returned 277 felony indictments since December. In the grand jury’s final report it listed that the Letcher County Courthouse is in overall good repair, but the jail remains overcrowded. The grand jury is concerned that the overcrowded jail will worsen with the reforms of House Bill 463, which shifts many state prisoners to county jails because of reduction of penalties of many criminal offenses.
The grand jury suggests that the jail install a two-way camera system for use with arraignments and other court hearings to alleviate the time it takes a bailiff to transport a prisoner from jail up the elevator to court.
On the second floor hallway the grand jury suggests adding more benches and wastebaskets.
The grand jury also recommends additional staff for the driver’s licensing department especially during typical lunch hours. The driver’s license office is closed during lunchtime. The grand jury says lunchtime is the only time some people have to renew their driver’s license or take care of other business at the courthouse.
The grand jury says the heating and cooling system does not properly heat or cool the grand jury room.
The grand jury would like a phone directory of all departments of county government to be created.
The grand jury suggests cracked floor tiles be replaced as well as parts of the building being painted. The grand jury would like to see additional handicapped parking spaces and handicapped accesses to the courthouse, and wants the smoking ban enforced inside the courthouse.