Former car dealer charged with theft from Centenary Methodist Church

| November 6, 2009

Delbert Ault, whose criminal history involves a troubled car dealership and a gubernatorial pardon, has been indicted on theft charges related to his volunteer work at Lexington's Centenary United Methodist Church.

Ault was indicted Tuesday in Fayette Circuit Court on a charge of theft by deception over $300 for allegedly making inappropriate charges on a gas credit card belonging to Centenary. Pastor Tom Grieb said Thursday that as a church member and volunteer, Ault drove and oversaw buses for Centenary.

"We had noticed some abnormalities in credit card usage regarding … gas purchases and asked the police to investigate," Grieb said.

Ault also was indicted on one felony count of theft by failure to make a required disposition over $300. According to the indictment and Grieb, Ault accepted money from the Henry Clay girls basketball team for transporting them on church buses but did not give the money to the church.

Henry Clay officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Ault's attorney, Henry Hughes, declined to comment Thursday.

Ault, who was briefly associated with the Bluegrass Stallions, has a criminal history and problems with state agencies date to the 1980s.

He was charged in April 1985 by a Fayette County grand jury with three counts of possession of a forged instrument stemming from a business deal that went sour.

Joe Graves, a former state lawmaker and now a retired Lexington businessman, lost money on the deal, he said. Ault had asked him to guarantee a personal loan to start a business and had a letter with a forged signature on it to back up his personal worth, Graves said.

Ault was convicted of one count, sentenced to 60 days in jail and put on probation for three years.

In 1995, Ault sought Graves' forgiveness and asked him to write a letter to then Gov. Brereton Jones seeking a pardon.

Then-Secretary of State Bob Babbage also asked for a pardon for Ault. Questions were raised about Babbage's request because he would later become Ault's partner in Ault Chevrolet of Lawrenceburg.

Babbage, now a lobbyist, did not return messages asking for an interview.

But Babbage has said previously that he did not know he would go into business with Ault when he sought the pardon. Their partnership was dissolved in 1997.

In 2000, Ault was charged by a federal grand jury with wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements on a bank loan application. An indictment also alleged that he defrauded employees at Ault Chevrolet by misrepresenting the dealership's financial solvency.

In U.S. District Court in 2000, Ault pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to one month of home detention and three years' probation, court records show.

In August 2008, Ault surrendered his Kentucky Board of Hearing Instrument specialist's license. According to state records, the board had received complaints about Ault dating to 2006. Ault allegedly sold hearing aids that didn't work. He allegedly failed to refund money or make required payments in some cases.

In a Herald-Leader interview earlier this year, Ault blamed his problems on what he described as a lack of business sense.

"They were embarrassing and humiliating, and I've paid for them dearly," he said. "I'm not an astute businessperson and didn't always have the right guidance and the right people around me to make things go as smoothly as they should."

Earlier this year, Ault was named executive vice president of the Stallions, Lexington's new professional basketball team. After a Herald-Leader reporter began asking questions about Ault's history, he said that his title had been changed to game day operations manager and that he had not handled money.

Ault resigned from the Stallions on Aug. 28.

He is scheduled for arraignment on the new charges Nov. 13.

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Category: Church Security

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