News and Press Releases

former charity director indicted for fraud, identity theft

allegedly stole over $133,000 from local charities,
Lost Most of the Money at Casinos

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former Kansas City, Mo., man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for a fraud scheme in which he stole more than $133,000 from two local charities and his visually impaired landlord.

Sean Patrick Taylor, also known as J.R. Wayne Gourley, 52, formerly of Kansas City, was charged in an 82-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City.

Taylor served as executive director for two Kansas City non-profit organizations. Today’s indictment alleges that, from April 2, 2007, to May 7, 2010, Taylor embezzled at least $133,161 from the Epilepsy Foundation of Kansas and Western Missouri and Westport Cooperative Services. The indictment also alleges that Taylor stole the identity of his landlord in order to open two unauthorized credit accounts.

Taylor was hired in early 2007 to manage the day-to-day operations of the Epilepsy Foundation, located at 6700 Troost, Kansas City. The Epilepsy Foundation provides medical assistance, other aid and programs for afflicted persons, and it raises public awareness of the many challenges posed by epilepsy. Taylor’s employment was terminated at the Epilepsy Foundation in April 2009, the indictment says, when he was confronted about his embezzlement and resigned under pressure.

About a month later, Taylor was hired to manage the day-to-day operations of Westport Cooperative Services (WCS), located at 201 Westport Road, Kansas City. Taylor misrepresented to WCS the circumstances under which he had left the Epilepsy Foundation, the indictment says. WCS terminated Taylor’s employment in May 2010. As a direct result of the alleged theft, WCS was forced to end its Meals on Wheels program, which had provided meals to 40 individuals, mostly senior citizens, five days per week. Because of Taylor’s alleged fraud, WCS also lost its bid to become a permanent sponsor of a foster grandparents program, which would have been funded by a $1.3 million, three-year grant. The foster grandparents program, during the time it was operated by WCS, paired roughly 80 low-income senior citizens with children in preschool through junior high. and a back-to-school program. WCS also operated a back-to-school program that provided uniforms, school supplies, and shoe vouchers to 400-500 low income children.

Taylor is charged with two counts of wire fraud, 77 counts of bank fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

Epilepsy Foundation Fraud

Today’s indictment alleges that Taylor embezzled at least $78,227 from the Epilepsy Foundation from April 1, 2007, to Aug. 30, 2009.

Taylor allegedly opened a bank account using the Epilepsy Foundation’s name and other information without authorization, then diverted cash and 123 checks into that account, totaling $42,896. These funds were intended as donations to the Epilepsy Foundation, the indictment alleges, but Taylor intercepted the funds and spent the money on himself, including at casinos and restaurants across the Kansas City metropolitan area. The indictment also says that Taylor caused extensive overdraft fees of at least $7,436.

Taylor allegedly made dozens of large cash withdrawals from that bank account, including withdrawals made at Prairie Band Casino in Mayetta, Kan., 7th Street Casino in Kansas City, Kan., and Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Ill.

During the scheme, the indictment says, Taylor lost more than $72,000 playing the slot machines at the Prairie Band Casino. As a result, Taylor received more than $5,200 in complementary benefits from the casino, the indictment says, including travel and lodging.

Taylor convinced the foundation’s board to hire Impact Consulting for lobbying and fund-raising assistance. Taylor did not disclose to the board that Impact Consulting was an entity that he himself had created, the indictment says, and that it had no other employees. Although the foundation sent $11,000 in payments to Impact Consulting, according to the indictment, it never performed services for the Foundation.

Taylor allegedly used the Epilepsy Foundation’s credit card for his own personal use, and opened an unauthorized credit card account. Taylor allegedly obtained cash advances on these cards totaling at least $7,532. The unauthorized credit card, the indictment says, was later closed with a balance of $5,138. Taylor also allegedly made purchases totaling $3,351 on the Epilepsy Foundation’s account at Staples on at least eight occasions during, and even after, his employment.

Several days after Taylor left employment at the Epilepsy Foundation, according to the indictment, the foundation noticed that a new Dell laptop and a Rolodex with donor contact information were both missing, and Taylor’s personnel file had been deleted off of the foundation's computers.

Westport Cooperative Services Fraud

Today’s indictment alleges that Taylor embezzled at least $46,638 from Westport Cooperative Services from Aug. 24, 2009, to May 7, 2010.

Taylor allegedly forged the signatures of two board members in order to open an unauthorized bank account under the name of Westport Cooperative Services on Oct. 9, 2009. Taylor deposited cash and at least 21 checks totaling at least $43,402 into this account. These funds allegedly constituted donations intended for Westport, but Taylor intercepted the funds and spent the money on himself, including at casinos and restaurants across the Kansas City metropolitan area. Taylor made cash withdrawals from ATMs at dozens of locations, including Harrah’s, Ameristar and Isle of Capri casinos.

According to the indictment, Taylor obtained a cell phone, which the board had not authorized, and paid $125 per month with Westport funds, causing a loss to Westport of approximately $1,000. The indictment also alleges that Taylor fraudulently authorized $2,408 in additional vacation pay for himself upon his resignation from Westport.

B.W. Fraud

Today’s indictment alleges that Taylor opened two lines of credit, without authorization, in the name of his landlord, identified as B.W., who was visually impaired. Taylor allegedly used the credit accounts from March 30 to May 25, 2010. Those accounts were closed with total outstanding balances of more than $5,000.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel M. Nelson. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.

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