HARRODSBURG — When looking for marks, sheriff’s offices and police departments would not seem like the smartest choices for a con man.
Yet calendar salesman Richard L. Clements Jr. allegedly has targeted a handful of law enforcement agencies around the state and now he’s on the run.
Clements, 45, of 111 Magnolia Way, Apt. A, Nicholasville, was indicted last week by a Mercer County grand jury for theft more than $500.
According to the indictment, Clements sold advertising to Mercer County businesses for placement on a Mercer County Sheriff’s Department calendar last year, but failed to deliver the calendar and converted the money to his own use. Deputy Scott Elder, who is investigating the case, said Clements collected at least $5,000 in Mercer County.
Elder said that advertisers for calendars for the Fleming County Sheriff’s Department and the Carlisle Police Department have been similarly victimized by Clements — who has been dubbed “the Calendar Guy” — and he believes other law enforcement agencies around the state and in Tennessee may have been duped as well.
The case is even attracting attention from the U.S. Marshal’s office in Lexington. Loren “Squirrel” Carl, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Kentucky, said there are no federal charges pending against Clements, but the agency is trying to help track him down.
“We’ve been contacted for assistance by multiple departments,” Carl, a former sheriff in Woodford County, said Wednesday.
Carl said he is aware of four agencies in the state who are looking for Clements, and estimated that Clements has taken $25,000 to $30,000. Those numbers could grow, Carl said, because the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association sent out emails to member departments Wednesday to see if any others have fallen prey to the scam.
Jerry Wagner, executive director of the sheriff’s association, said finding and prosecuting Clements is something the agency takes seriously.
“It’s really important to us,” Wagner said. “We don’t want to see anyone in the community being taken advantage of, especially in connection with law enforcement.”
According to the Mercer indictment, the ad sales took place between September 2010 and January of this year. Former Sheriff Chris Kehrt authorized the calendar deal with Clements, and had used him in previous years with good results, said Elder, who worked for Kehrt and serves current Sheriff Ernie Kelty as chief deputy.
“In years past, he had delivered the product and did what he was supposed to do. They were nice calendars,” Elder said.
Kelty, who was sworn in December, decided to go a different route with his calendar, choosing one created by the¿Kentucky Sheriffs’ Boys and Girls Ranch, which helps provide opportunities for underprivileged kids around the state. Kelty said his new 2012 Mercer County Sheriff’s Department calendars are scheduled to arrive next week.
The calendars, given out free to businesses and individuals, are used as promotional tools by law enforcement agencies across the state. They often contain pictures of everyone who works in the department along with contact numbers for emergency responders and other pertinent information. Having the calendars tainted by an unscrupulous businessman is troublesome, Kelty said.
“They are definitely public relations tools for us,” he said. “We want people to know what we look like and how to get in touch with us.”
Kelty said he began trying to deal with Clements to make the situation right shortly after taking office.
“I talked to him several times, trying to get the calendars or the money back, but I didn’t get either and now we can’t find him,” Kelty said.