An interior designer whose clients once included the rich and famous Kentuckians was sentenced Thursday to 21 months in prison for stealing more than $285,000 from an elderly widow with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Wayne Jenkins, 66, requested through a lawyer a period of probation or to serve his sentence of house arrest, citing a serious medical condition which was not revealed in court.
But US District Judge David Hale said it would not be “just punishment”.
“The fraud in this case cannot be minimized,” he said. “It played out over several years against a vulnerable victim.”
Jenkins, who will be allowed to report to jail later, chose not to address the court.
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Mark Eliason, his former business and love partner – and the mother of victim June Eliason, who died in 2019 aged 95 – said in an interview that the sentence was too lenient but he was glad the case is over.
Demanding in court that Jenkins go to jail, Assistant U.S. Attorney Corinne Keel said Jenkins’ crime was “not simply a breach of fiduciary duty” but also an exploitation of a friendship “with Eliason and his mother”.
Addressing the court, Mark Eliason’s husband, Jeff Howard, said June Eliason, a nurse, had worked all her life and Jenkins had gutted the legacy she hoped to leave behind.
“She was betrayed and she shouldn’t have ended her life this way,” he said.
According to the advisory sentencing guidelines, Jenkins would have been sentenced to 27 to 33 months behind bars, but Hale reduced that amount due to his medical condition.
He also ordered Jenkins to pay $285,336 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release after his sentence expired.
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The Courier Journal previously reported that Jenkins pleaded guilty in April to one count of bank fraud.
The government accused him of using forgery, unauthorized access to online banking and other methods to create the false impression that Eliason or his mother authorized withdrawals, checks and payments on his accounts. In court documents, he was accused of falsifying his name to make online payments for his personal American Express card.
Keel said Jenkins used June Eliason’s money to maintain a lavish lifestyle that included travel, dining, entertainment, vehicle and clothing expenses.
In an interview, Eliason and Howard said Jenkins dined out most nights, hosted parties for over a hundred guests, drove a Jaguar, Range Rover and Mercedes on several occasions, and sent his sheets to the dry cleaning.
Jenkins Eliason’s clients included Governor John Y. Brown Jr., Yum Brands CEO David Novak, and Ashland Oil Chairman John Hall — and their wives.
Eliason and Jenkins parted ways personally about 15 years ago and professionally about four years ago, amid nasty allegations and counterclaims over bad checks and unpaid bills.
Eliason was dependent on Jenkins to handle their bookkeeping and didn’t suspect anything was wrong until his mother’s nursing home payment bounced, according to court documents. When he finally checked his mother’s accounts, he found they were virtually empty, records show.
“Mark rolled up in a ball and cried,” Howard said. “He wanted to die.”