Colorado AG charges Silt cop with insurance fraud, theft
Silt police Cpl. Michael Taylor has been charged with insurance fraud and other financial crimes, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman said in a news release.
Taylor was indicted by the Colorado Statewide Grand Jury on three counts of felony insurance fraud, three counts of felony forgery and three counts of felony theft. The indictment followed an investigation by the Attorney General’s office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the news release said.
The news release did not provide a full account of the accusations, but said the indictment alleges that Taylor made three deceptive insurance claims from 2010 to 2015 and received tens of thousands of dollars in insurance payments.
He is accused, in part, of making a false police report in 2015 claiming that someone had gone into his wife’s vehicle and stolen thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. He is accused of then making a false insurance claim based upon that false police report and receiving $9,918 from the insurance company before his fraud was uncovered, according to Coffman.
Ryan Kalamaya of the Aspen law firm Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril said by email and on Twitter that Taylor “denies any wrongdoing. We look forward to vindication through the judicial process.”
Silt Police Chief Mike Kite said by telephone Saturday that Taylor was arrested Thursday by Colorado Bureau Investigation officers and taken to the Garfield County Jail. Kalamaya said Taylor was released Friday on $5,000 bond.
Kite said Taylor was on leave with pay and, under standard procedures, an internal investigation had been launched. Kite said he didn’t have details of the case beyond what Coffman said in her news release, and his department is cooperating with the CBI.
In her news release, Coffman said, “Insurance fraud is a crime that affects everyone in Colorado by driving up premiums and creating red tape for our hardworking and honest citizens. The fact that this alleged criminal behavior was perpetrated by someone who was sworn police officer, who was supposed to protect Coloradans, makes this even more grievous.”
The Silt Police Department website said Taylor joined the department in June 2011 after spending most of his career as an officer in Pennsylvania. It said Taylor has a total of 21 years of service, including airport rescue firefighting, resource officer, field training officer and hostage negotiator.
This is the second news story this year involving personnel issues in the seven-person department, though there’s no indication the two are related. The department also has seen high turnover in the past year.
In January, longtime Chief Levi Burris was paid nearly $35,000 in a retirement settlement that followed a four-month suspension and investigation that the town agreed to keep secret and refused to release under the Colorado Open Records Act.
It remains unclear why Burris was put on leave. While he had been the subject of a complaint from Silt Mayor Rick Aluise and Aluise’s stepdaughter, Burris told the PI in February that his leave wasn’t related to Aluise’s claim, which he said had been debunked. He said he wasn’t free to disclose why he was placed on leave, but said “multiple issues” had come up.
Burris retired effective Jan. 6 after 10 years as Silt police chief. He had been on leave since Sept. 7, 2016. A list of Garfield County Sheriff’s Office employees provided to the Post Independent shows that Burris was hired as a deputy II on Feb. 28.
Current Chief Kite was recently promoted to that role after serving as interim chief for eight months, the department website says. He’s been with the department since 2005. Of the five officers on the force besides Kite and Taylor, four were hired within the past year, Kite said.
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Embezzlement and theft are recurring themes in the Aspen area crime annals, and the District Court judge who sent Derek Johnson to prison for six years Tuesday brought up three recent cases before passing down the sentence.