Sunday, September 14, 2003

Attorney accused of fake claim vs. client

The Associated Press

WINCHESTER, Ky. - A prominent Lexington attorney has been charged with faking a sexual allegation against a company he represented and then settling the claim, keeping the money himself.

Robert Treadway was indicted Thursday by a Clark County grand jury on five felony counts of theft by deception.

The charges stem from his work for Rogers Investments, the parent company of Winchester's Ale-8-One soft drink operation.

According to the charges, Treadway allegedly told Rogers Investments officials he had been contacted by an attorney who planned to sue an employee for sexual misconduct with a minor.

"He told them it would ruin the company," said Jim Starks, a private investigator in Midway. Treadway allegedly told company officials he had hired Starks to check out the claim.

Starks, who said he had worked for Treadway in the past, said he became aware of Treadway's alleged actions when a company official called him to confirm he had investigated the sexual misconduct claim.

"I told them I didn't know what they were talking about," said Starks, who served as a Kentucky State Police detective for 20 years before retiring in 1998.

Starks testified before the grand jury Thursday, said Commonwealth's Attorney Thomas Smith, who presented the case.

After Starks' supposed investigation, Treadway then allegedly told the company that the juvenile's attorney offered to settle the claim, Starks said.

"(The company) kept saying nothing wrong had been done," Starks said, but company officials agreed to pay.

"They trusted him," Starks said. "He was the corporate attorney."

In all, Treadway charged the company almost $70,000 for his service, the settlement and the private investigation, Starks said.

Calls to Frank A. Rogers III, operator and part owner of Ale-8-One, were not immediately returned.

A judge ordered a summons be issued for Treadway to appear in court, Smith said, but no court date has been set.

If convicted, Treadway could face up to five years in prison for each of the five counts.

Treadway's office and home phone numbers have been disconnected. He did not return phone calls to his cellular phone.

Treadway, a Harvard-educated attorney, has represented people suing the Catholic Diocese of Lexington for sexual abuse. He won a $2.4 million settlement against Lexington's city government for victims sexually abused by Ron Berry, who ran a youth jobs program called Micro-City Government.

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