Grand jury: Cop’s false claims to insurers involved fake items
A Silt police officer didn’t just file false insurance claims for items that never got stolen — some of the items that supposedly went missing were themselves not the real deal, a state grand jury indictment says.
A fake Rolex watch and a ring with its diamond swapped out for a cubic zirconium stone are among the items that Michael Taylor, a corporal with the Silt Police Department, is accused of making tens of thousands of dollars of fraudulent insurance claims on, the indictment says.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman on Friday announced that Taylor was indicted and charged with three counts of felony insurance fraud, three counts of felony forgery, and three counts of felony theft, following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The indictment was filed in 9th Judicial District Court in Glenwood Springs Thursday and Taylor, 49, was arrested the same day. He immediately was freed from Garfield County Jail after posting a $5,000 bond, and is due back in court Sept. 13.
Silt Town Administrator Pamela Woods said Taylor is on paid administrative leave.
Taylor’s attorney, Ryan Kalamaya, said Taylor already had been on leave since the end of July due to injuries sustained in the line of duty.
He said Taylor “denies any wrongdoing and he looks forward to vindicating his name through the judicial process.”
Taylor joined the Silt department in 2011 after spending most of his 21-year career in Pennsylvania, the department’s website says. His experience has ranged from field training to hostage negotiating.
The indictment describes a history of alleged false insurance claims dating back to June 2010, before Taylor became a Silt officer. It says he reported then to New Castle police that his home had been burglarized while he was out of town, and that numerous items including the Rolex, a KitchenAid blender, his passport and a Sentry safe were taken. It says he filed a claim with Nationwide Insurance the same day, and received reimbursements included $4,076 for the Rolex and $100 for the passport.
“Later investigation revealed that Taylor’s passport was never stolen, and he turned it in to the Department of State to receive a new passport. In a later interview with investigators Taylor admitted the Rolex was a knockoff he had purchased for only $2,000 years before in Pennsylvania,” says the indictment, signed by Assistant Attorney General Jason Slothauber, previously a prosecutor with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
The indictment says that in 2012, Taylor told police his New Castle home again had been burglarized, this time while he wife was out of town and he was at a movie. It says items including a Sentry safe, his passport, and four pieces of jewelry covered by his insurance company under a valuable personal property rider were reported taken.
The indictment says he received more than $50,000 for the jewelry claim alone, and that he had submitted a $7,500 appraisal for a diamond ring. But it says the investigation shows the ring no longer was worth that because shortly before the reported burglary he took it to a jeweler, and the diamond was replaced with a cubic zirconium stone.
Also, “Investigation revealed Taylor’s passport was never stolen, because he used it to travel to Mexico after he made this insurance claim,” the indictment says.
It says that in 2012, Taylor specified that three items under the valuable property rider hadn’t been stolen, but that in 2015 he contacted the insurer, the United States Automobile Association, to say they had been stolen in the 2012 burglary. The company denied coverage because more than a year had passed.
The indictment says that the next day, Taylor reported to New Castle police that the three items had been stolen from his wife’s car. Days later, he filed a claim to USAA based on that report, and was paid $9,918.42.
Kalamaya said Taylor had no knowledge of the ring having a cubic zirconium stone when he filed the insurance claim. He said he couldn’t speak to the Rolex watch allegations at this time.
The forgery counts pertain to checks for $85.81, $950 and $365.70, received by Taylor in 2010, 2012 and 2015, respectively. They were made out to Taylor and Julie Leaf, and he signed both their names and deposited them without her knowledge or permission to sign her name, the indictment says.
Kalamaya explains, “Julie Leaf is his ex-wife. They were separated at the time. She was in Pennsylvania and they were still legally married. The checks were from the insurance companies for personal property that was stolen out of his residence in Colorado. The policy was still jointly titled, but it is my understanding that there was never a dispute that the property was his.”