Paducah attorney and his wife accused of financially exploiting vulnerable adults

A Paducah attorney and his wife have been charged with financially exploiting 25 vulnerable people from 2006 through this year, including six counts of theft.

An indictment returned Friday in McCracken Circuit Court charges Kenneth Vern Anderson and his wife Gina Smith Anderson with knowingly exploiting adults in cases each involving more than $300, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

One of the theft charges was for theft in an amount over $10,000, which carries the same maximum penalty.

Anderson, 68, seemed unaware of his indictment when he was reached at the Office of Public Guardian/Administrator in Paducah.

Informed of the charges by a reporter, he said, ”I don’t feel like continuing this conversation any longer” and hung up the phone.

He called back later and said his wife never worked for his office other than as a volunteer. He said he could not comment further until he spoke with an attorney.

The pair was indicted Friday and a warrant was issued for their arrests. A booking supervisor at the McCracken County Jail said Monday that they had not been booked.

The pair was arrested Nov. 6 and cash bail was set at $20,000 each. They are to be arraigned Dec. 22.

Kenneth Anderson is already facing an April trial in Ballard County after being charged in 2020 with knowingly abusing or neglecting a 23-year-old man with severe disabilities. The victim was emaciated and extremely malnourished when he was found by the state, according to a news release from the Kentucky State Police. He had to be admitted to a hospital before being taken to a care facility in Louisville, where he made a full recovery.

Anderson’s office had been appointed as his guardian, said Anderson's attorney, Dennis Null, of Mayfield.

The McCracken indictments were announced by Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office after an investigation by Detective Greg Dukes of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit. Deputy Director of the Medicaid Fraud Unit David Startsman and Assistant Attorney General Emily Campbell presented the case before the McCracken County grand jury.

The attorney general’s office said the victims were all vulnerable adults.

Public administrators are appointed by the courts to administer estates, trusts and guardian accounts, including for people with disabilities who are found by a jury to be unable to manage their own affairs.

Null said he doesn’t represent Anderson on the new charges.

Anderson was admitted to practice law in 1969 and does not have any record of public disciplinary charges, according to the Kentucky Bar Association.

McCracken District Judge Todd Jones said Anderson will not be appointed to any future cases because of his new indictment. That will effectively remove him as Public Guardian/Administrator, Jones said.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the theft charges against Kenneth Vern Anderson and his wife Gina Smith Anderson. They were charged with six counts of theft.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Paducah attorney, wife charged with exploiting vulnerable people