The city attorney for Elkhorn City was indicted this week on a charge alleging he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from one of his private-practice clients over a nearly decade-and-a-half period.
According to the indictment handed down Wednesday by a Pike grand jury, Timothy Belcher, 54, of East Elkhorn Street, Elkhorn City, is facing a charge of theft for allegedly “taking or exercising control of money in an amount” greater than $10,000. The alleged theft occurred between March 2004 and December 2018, the indictment charges.
Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Bill Slone said Belcher was hired by the family of Samuel D. Johnson, who was killed in a vehicle crash in November 2001. Johnson’s 18-month-old daughter Makenna Johnson was also in the vehicle, Slone said.
Belcher, Slone said, represented the family in a wrongful death lawsuit and was successful in securing a judgement in the amount of approximately $600,000 for the family, which was placed in an escrow account opened by Belcher.
“He actually did a really good job in the case and secured that large judgement for Mr. Johnson’s children and for his wife,” Slone said.
Slone said Makenna Johnson recently attempted to contact Belcher regarding the money from the judgement Belcher won for her family and found out that there was only $390 remaining in the escrow account. Belcher, Slone said, had withdrawn the money for his personal use.
“He transferred the money out of that account and placed it into his law firm’s account and used it for his personal use,” Slone said.
Slone said banks typically do not keep records beyond six years in the past, so it is unclear exactly when Belcher allegedly began taking the money for his personal use. But, Slone said, two statements from 2007 for the account were located and showed that in June 2007, there was between $820,000 and $830,000 in the account at that time. Slone said the Kentucky State Police Special Investigations Unit, led by Det. Chris Kirk and Forensic Auditor Billie Withers, conducted an investigation that ultimately led to the theft charge being filed against Belcher.
In addition to Makenna Johnson, Cameron Blair and Dylan Campbell are also listed as victims in the indictment.
Slone said he intends to see the case through and he the family can be repaid.
“We will seek restitution in this case,” Slone said. “We’re going to take at look at Mr. Belcher’s assets and hopefully there will be some assets of his we can use to generate some restitution for the victims in this case.”
Slone, who formerly practiced privately, said he is disappointed in Belcher’s alleged conduct in regard to his client’s money.
“It gives me a sick feeling,” Slone said. “It’s devastating to the person who is counting on that money to be there at this point in her life and it’s really disappointing that a member of the bar would do this, and I believe that every other member of the bar in Pike County would agreed and be disappointed, as well.”
According to its website, Belcher has been a member of the Kentucky Bar Association since October 1990 and his status is listed as “active” with no record of public discipline. He is the long-serving city attorney in Elkhorn City and a former member of the Elkhorn City Council.
A call to city hall in Elkhorn City seeking comment was not successful as of presstime Friday.
Slone said he hopes he is successful in recovering at least a portion of the money Belcher is accused of taking.
“These children grew up without a father, and the only want to compensate them for the loss of their father is with money,” Slone said. “It’s pitiful to say that, but that’s the only way we have in our judicial system to compensate them for the loss of their father is with money. He was hired to protect these children and their rights, particularly Ms. Johnson, and they were taken advantage of by the person they hired to protect them.”