Silt officer pleads guilty to felony insurance fraud, theft
Silt police Col. Michael Taylor has pleaded guilty to felony insurance fraud and felony theft. However, it’s unclear whether he’s still on the Silt Police Department payroll.
Having been indicted by a grand jury in August, 49-year-old Taylor pleaded guilty in district court on Dec. 12 to felony theft of $20,000 to $100,000 and felony insurance fraud.
Over the course of about five years, Taylor had reported twice that his New Castle home was burglarized and that his wife’s car was broken into. And his insurance paid out more than $60,000 over that time. In the first claim, in 2010, he told New Castle police and his insurance company that several items were stolen from his home, including a Rolex watch, a Sentry safe, his passport and a blender. However, he later turned that passport in when he went to get a new one, and he later admitted that the Rolex was a knockoff, according to an indictment.
In 2012 he reported another burglary of his home, including of a Sentry safe, his passport and some valuable jewelry.
“Taylor was paid for his lost passport, other items, and $50,000.08 for the value of the jewelry items … that he claimed were stolen,” according to the indictment. “Later investigation revealed that Taylor had taken [the diamond ring] in to a jeweler shortly before he made his claim, and the ring now had a cubic zirconium stone in it rather than a diamond ring shown in the appraisal, and thus would no longer be worth the $7,500 appraisal Taylor submitted.”
He later took a trip to Mexico using the passport he reported stolen, according to investigators.
In 2015 he reported again to his insurance company, saying that other items of jewelry had been stolen in the 2012 burglary, but his claim was denied because it was more than a year old.
“The next day Taylor contacted the New Castle Police Department and reported that the same items … had been stolen out of his wife’s car,” according to his indictment. The insurance company then paid him nearly $10,000 in that claim.
The indictment against Taylor also alleged three instances of him cashing checks made out to himself and his now ex-wife, without her knowledge. These checks totaled about $1,400.
In late August, Silt police chief Mike Kite said that Taylor was on paid leave, which is standard procedure, and that an internal investigation was underway.
Now, two weeks after Taylor’s guilty plea, it’s unclear if he’s still employed by the Silt Police Department. Kite said Tuesday he cannot release information about whether Taylor is still employed by his department because it’s a personnel issue, and because “other things are going on behind the scenes that I can’t discuss.”
Kite said the town’s human resources department gave him explicit instructions not to release any information about Taylor’s employment. However, the chief said that if a police officer is found to have committed a felony, that is “definitely, without question” grounds for termination.
Asked whether Silt Police Department currently has any felons employed as police officers, the chief said “Tricky question. … Not that I’m aware of.”
Indicted Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters turned herself in to Pitkin County law enforcement authorities on Thursday after an arrest warrant had been issued.
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