On April 21, a Fleming County jury found Gerald E. Puckett guilty of two counts of Diversion of Charitable Gaming Funds over $300.

During October and November 2006, Puckett and his spouse, Joanne B. Colgan, both 52, were principle officers for Kentucky Charities United, Inc., a non-profit 501(c) (3) corporation established to obtain a bingo gaming license.

Puckett had been a director and initial incorporator for United Way of the Mountains when it was established in Morehead and later changed the name to Kentucky Charities United.

They conducted 10 bingo sessions at Lucky Bucks Bingo facility and collected more than $15,005.89 for deposit. However, only $10,113.89 was actually deposited, according to court documents. The couple also transferred approximately $950 from the charitable gaming operation to Feed God’s Children, Inc., another non-profit corporation they operated. Money from Feed God’s Children was then used to pay for the couple’s residential utilities, vehicle loan, vehicle insurance and other living expenses.

Colgan previously entered a guilty plea to the charges and she is awaiting sentencing. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Colgan testified in Puckett’s trial about their charity fraud. She admitted to knowing that what they were doing was wrong, but explained how Puckett and she justified using money from Feed God’s Children for their living expenses, according to court records.

During the two-day trial, Puckett’s attorney argued that because Colgan’s name was on most of the checks from Feed God’s Children, she was the individual who committed the criminal acts. He attributed the missing deposit money to bookkeeping errors.

At the conclusion of the trial, the Fleming County jury found Puckett guilty on both counts of the indictment and sentenced him to four years imprisonment on each count, to run consecutive, for a total sentence of eight years imprisonment.

Fleming Circuit Judge Stockton Wood ordered Puckett be held at the Mason County Detention Center and directed that a pre-sentence investigation report be prepared. Final sentencing has been tentatively set for May 15 in Fleming County.

Puckett was prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary W. Adkins of Morehead. The defendant was represented by Erik Wilbekin of Covington.

The criminal charges were investigated by Investigator Michael Doane of Lexington and Auditor Ben Murphy of Morehead from the Kentucky Department of Charitable Gaming.

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