Fraud suspect allowed trip to Mexico

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A Silt police officer accused of insurance fraud is being allowed to travel to Mexico for a family wedding before surrendering his passport.

Magistrate Susan Ryan on Wednesday agreed to letting Michael Taylor take the trip, and also converted his $5,000 cash bond to a personal-recognizance bond. The state Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the case, didn’t oppose either action.

Taylor, 49, was arrested in August after he was indicted by a state grand jury on three counts apiece of felony insurance fraud, felony forgery and felony theft.

He’s accused of making tens of thousands of dollars of false insurance claims for reported thefts from his New Castle home and a car. The reports involved jewelry, a safe, his passport and other items.

Taylor remains on administrative leave from his police job while an internal investigation continues, a process Town Administrator Pamela Woods said Wednesday takes time. She wouldn’t say whether he’s on paid leave. His name has been removed from the list of officers on the department’s website. Taylor has been working as a corporal for the department, joining it in 2011 after spending most of his 21-year career in Pennsylvania.

Taylor appeared in court for a bond hearing Wednesday with his attorney, Ryan Kalamaya. Kalamaya told the magistrate that Taylor hoped to be able to travel to Mexico to attend the wedding of his wife’s brother, who Kalamaya said is a local police officer. He said Taylor is to be in the wedding party.

He said a number of local officers will be at the wedding, and Taylor is a longtime local who has lived in the area 11 years and has substantial community ties, and two young kids.

“I would submit that there is a very low chance of any flight risk,” he said, again referencing that many officers would be in attendance.

He also indicated that Taylor made a good-faith effort by turning over his gun and passport to his mother-in-law after his arrest. Kalamaya said the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office had failed to ask Taylor to surrender those items at the time of his arrest.

Jason Slothouber, an assistant attorney general, told Ryan a judge previously had required Taylor to surrender his passport and any firearms as a bond condition.

Slothouber said he didn’t oppose Taylor’s Mexico trip as long as he arranges within 24 hours of returning to turn over his passport to authorities.

He said he also didn’t oppose the personal-recognizance bond. He said he thinks people pose the biggest flight risk when they panic either right at the beginning of their cases, or close to trial.

As for the allegations in the case, Kalamaya previously has said Taylor denies any wrongdoing, and on Wednesday he declined any further comment.


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