News and Press Releases

former charity director pleads guilty to fraud, identity theft

stole at least $100,000 from local charities,
lost most of the money at casinos

January 19, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former Kansas City, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to a fraud scheme in which he stole more than $100,000 from two local charities.

Sean Patrick Taylor, also known as J.R. Wayne Gourley, 52, formerly of Kansas City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to the charge contained in an Aug. 10, 2011, federal indictment.

Taylor served as executive director for two Kansas City non‑profit organizations. By pleading guilty today, Taylor admitted that he embezzled a total of at least $100,000 from the Epilepsy Foundation of Kansas and Western Missouri and Westport Cooperative Services from April 2, 2007, to May 7, 2010. The government believes that the loss amount is $133,161.

During the scheme, 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, including travel and lodging.

Taylor was hired in 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, 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. WCS terminated Taylor=s employment in May 2010.

As a direct result of Taylor’s 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 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. WCS also operated a back-to-school program that provided uniforms, school supplies, and shoe vouchers to 400-500 low income children.

Epilepsy Foundation Fraud

Taylor admitted that he embezzled at least $78,227 from the Epilepsy Foundation from April 2, 2007, to Aug. 30, 2009. Much of this consisted of funds intended as donations to the Epilepsy Foundation, which Taylor stole and spent on personal expenses, including at casinos and restaurants.

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 and that it had no other employees. Although the foundation sent $11,000 in payments to Impact Consulting, it never performed services for the foundation.

Taylor used the Epilepsy Foundation=s credit card for his own personal use, and opened an unauthorized credit card account. Taylor obtained cash advances on these cards totaling at least $7,532. Taylor also admitted that he made personal purchases totaling $3,351 on the Epilepsy Foundation=s account at Staples on at least eight occasions, including six purchases that were made after his employment was terminated.

Westport Cooperative Services Fraud

Taylor admitted that he embezzled at least $46,810 from Westport Cooperative Services from Aug. 24, 2009, to May 7, 2010.

Taylor 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 constituted donations intended for Westport, which Taylor stole and spent on personal expenses.

Taylor obtained a cell phone and paid $125 per month with Westport funds, which teh board had not authorized, causing a loss to Westport of approximately $1,000. Taylor also admitted that he fraudulently authorized $2,408 in additional vacation pay for himself.

Under federal statutes, Taylor is subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole for bank fraud, in addition to a consecutive sentence of two years in federal prison without parole for identity theft. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

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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