Man who stole $700K from local pet shelter to be sentenced Monday

A Wayne Twp. man who admitted to stealing more than $700,000 from the Animal Friends Humane Society while serving as a volunteer treasurer will be sentenced Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Jeremy Bruce Taylor, 48, of the 3900 block of Withrow Road, pleaded guilty June to aggravated theft, a third-degree felony. He faces up to 36 months in prison.

Taylor, a CPA, diverted cash from the nonprofit agency that cares for homeless animals to pay off his own credit cards and make personal purchases between June 4, 2014 to March 26, 2021, according to Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Garrett Baker. The amount stolen totaled $730,984.19, according to the assistant prosecutor.

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“He was volunteering as the treasurer during that time,” Baker said. “(Taylor) used funds from Animal Friends’ bank account to pay off his own personal credit card. That alone was approximately $677,000,” Baker said.

Taylor’s attorney John O’Shea filed a sentencing motion urging the judge not to send Taylor to prison stating that Taylor panicked when he was having financial difficulty and he “would never have committed the offense had he believed any animals at the shelter would have suffered due to his offense.”

The attorney said Taylor has a “great love of animals” owning a farm where he cared for five dogs, six chickens, seven horses and two pigs.

Taylor has suffered “public humiliation” from media coverage of his case and has suffered personal losses, O’Shea said in the motion.

“Since (Taylor) turned himself in to authorities and admitted to his friends and family of his wrongdoing, his wife of 25 years has filed for divorce. Moreover, the emotional burden that offense placed on his children and grandchildren pains (Taylor). According to his children, they have lost their home and are devastated that their parents are divorcing,” O’Shea wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

The attorney also noted Taylor was fired from his job and will, “never work in the profession of accounting again.”

When Taylor first stole from Animal Friends, his family was going through a financial hardship, the attorney wrote.

“He was behind on his house payments and feared foreclosure of his home. Additionally, he had credit card debt and took out all he could from his 401(K) account. He panicked,” O’Shea wrote. “Like many in these types of cases, (Taylor) always though he was going to be able to replace the funds and that each time he stole ‘was one last time. ’ Also, he did not realized how much his theft added up to.”

Taylor has raised $35,000 in restitution and is working on his home in increase the value to sell it with all the money going to restitution, according to O’Shea.

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The attorney said Taylor is “genuinely remorseful for what he has done,” recidivism is “highly unlikely” and incarceration “will interfere with making the victim whole.”

Prosecutors say Taylor used the personal card for vacations and going to concerts and “was spending quite a lot per month,” he said.

In addition, Taylor used the organization’s credit cards for his own benefit, including paying his cell phone bill and making purchases at Kings Island. There also were a number of purchases at Rural King and other businesses for Taylor’s farm.

“I think it just became a source of funds for him,” Baker said.

Taylor also wrote checks to a fictitious vendor and when the Animal Friends Humane Society board asked for some bank financials, he provided with them with falsified statements, Baker said.

The Animal Friends Humane Society Board released a statement about Taylor in June.

“In the last few months, AFHS discovered that Jeremy Taylor, who was a member of our board and our treasurer for more than 20 years, had exploited the trust we placed in him and used his training as a CPA and knowledge of our financial processes to steal from this organization. The board found the theft on its own and has been working with the Butler County authorities to prosecute this theft and abuse of trust.”

A professional bookkeeper and an outside CPA has been hired as part of a variety of changes to ensure something like this never happens again, according to the statement from board attorney George Jonson.

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