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Officer arrested for allegedly scamming tens of thousands through fraudulent insurance claims |

Officer arrested for allegedly scamming tens of thousands through fraudulent insurance claims

Burglary claims, and alleged fake Rolex, diamond ring, at heart of grand jury indictment

A Silt police officer indicted by a state grand jury was arrested Thursday on multiple felony counts for allegedly lying about his home and car being burglarized and collecting nearly $60,000 in fraudulent insurance claims.

Michael Taylor, 49, corporal of the Silt Police Department and its third-ranking member, faces charges of theft, insurance fraud and forgery after he allegedly filed false reports related to purported burglaries of his New Castle home and the valuation of jewelry that he said had been stolen.

He remains on the force, and is on paid administrative leave and workers compensation leave, the result of having his jaw recently broken during an encounter related to his response to an unrelated domestic-abuse incident.

The grand jury indictment says Taylor, on June 13, 2010, reported to authorities in New Castle that his home had been burglarized while he was out of town.

“He reported many items missing, including a Sentry safe, a Rolex Sea Dweller watch, a KitchenAid blender and his passport,” says the indictment, filed Thursday in Garfield County District Court.

Taylor’s insurance firm paid him just over $4,000 for the Rolex and $100 for his passport, the indictment says.

“Later investigation revealed that Taylor’s passport was never stolen, and he turned it in to the Department of State to obtain a new passport,” wrote Jason Slothouber, an assistant attorney general with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Slothouber is a former prosecutor in the 9th Judicial District where Taylor was advised of the potential charges. “In a later interview with investigators Taylor admitted the Rolex was a knockoff he had purchased for only $2,000 years before in Pennsylvania.”

In May 2012, he told New Castle police that his home “had been burglarized while he was at a movie and his wife was out of town,” the indictment says. “He reported many items stolen, including a Sentry safe, his passport,” and four pieces of valuable jewelry. The latter had been listed on a “valuable personal property” rider with his insurance carrier, United States Automobile Association. Taylor submitted an appraisal for the “diamond ring, showing it had a value of $7,500,” Slothouber wrote.

“Later investigation revealed that Taylor had taken [the ring] 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 … Taylor submitted,” the indictment says. “Investigation revealed Taylor’s passport was never stolen because he used it to travel to Mexico after he made this insurance claim.”

Taylor was paid $50,000.08 for the three items of jewelry — he allegedly told investigators three other items had not been stolen — and his supposedly lost passport, according to the indictment.

The Colorado attorney general’s office, in a statement released Friday about the case, said Taylor in 2015 also made a false police report in which he claimed thousands of dollars worth of jewelry was stolen from his wife’s vehicle.

New Castle Police Chief Tony Pagni said Taylor on two occasions reported to his department “people having entered his house.” He was unaware of the recent charges filed by state authorities but said his office consulted with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation about Taylor.

“There were a couple of incidents that we brought to the attention” of other agencies, Pagni said.

Taylor’s attorney, Ryan Kalamaya of Aspen, said his client denies the allegations and looks forward to clearing his name. Taylor had no knowledge of the ring “being cubic zirconium at the time he made the [insurance] claim,” Kalamaya said, adding that he had no specific knowledge about the allegation related to the Rolex.

Taylor is charged with three counts each of theft, insurance fraud and forgery. He is free after posting $5,000 bond and is due in court next month.

“Insurance fraud is a crime that affects everyone in Colorado by driving up premiums and creating red tape for our hardworking and honest citizens,” Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in the press release. “The fact that this alleged criminal behavior was perpetrated by someone who was a sworn police officer, who was supposed to protect Coloradans, makes this even more grievous.”

Silt Police Chief Mike Kite on Sunday said Taylor is on administrative leave and is being paid “as of right now.”

Asked about the allegations, he said “obviously I wasn’t happy, was a little shocked. I was just trying to figure out exactly was going on.”

He declined to say when a decision would be made about Taylor’s future with his department. Kite noted that an internal-affairs investigation will be conducted.

“There is a lot of red tape and protocols to be followed when it comes to this type of thing and when it involves law enforcement officers,” he said.

Kite declined comment on Taylor receiving workers compensation, saying it had nothing to do with the criminal case. Other sources said he is collecting workers compensation.

Taylor joined the Silt Police Department in 2011 after spending most of his career as an officer in Pennsylvania, says the department website.

Chief Judge Michael Martinez of the 2nd Judicial District signed off on the indictment on Thursday. He presides over the state’s ongoing grand jury, 12 citizens who brought the charges against Taylor.

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