ST. GEORGE— A 38-year-old St. George man was arrested Thursday for allegedly defrauding the Washington County School District $34,000 and for theft from his former employer amounting to approximately $89,000.
Detectives began investigating a suspected theft and fraud case after the owner of an audio equipment supplier store discovered a former employee had allegedly been stealing from the store and conducting a side business of his own, according to a probable cause statement written by a St. George Police Detective in support of the arrest.
The former employee, who was identified as Dustin D. Taylor, had been the manager at the audio store’s St. George location.
It was discovered that Taylor had been ordering valuable equipment for various bids and contracts but did not install the specified equipment per the contracts, according to the statement of probable cause.
In this case, the Washington County School District had contracted with Taylor for equipment installation at three different schools, the statement said. However, Taylor had inferior equipment installed at the schools.
“The loss to the school in equipment installed versus what should have been installed is estimated around $34,000.00,” the statement of probable cause said. “This was verified by an internal company investigation and physical inventory conducted at the schools.”
Some of the equipment was later found to have been installed at a different school outside of Washington County, according to the statement. It was discovered the equipment installed at the fourth school was paid for and shipped by the audio store without the consent or knowledge of the store owner.
“It appears that (Taylor) had been operating his own business on the side while employed by (the audio store),” the statement said, “and they believe their equipment was stolen and installed in other contracts for his personal benefit.”
Much of the equipment remains unaccounted for, the statement said, and the audio store has estimated a current loss of $89,000; standing to lose more as they continue to resolve the issues with the various schools and other contracts.
According to the probable cause statement, witnesses told police that during conversations with Taylor, he admitted to the alleged crimes.
During an interview with detectives, Taylor admitted he received the equipment ordered for the Washington County schools, yet installed different and inferior equipment instead, the statement said. He also admitted to having several equipment items belonging to the audio store in his possession.
Taylor was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
He was charged with a second-degree felony for theft of $89,000 from the audio store, and an additional second-degree felony for communications fraud of $34,000 for installing inferior equipment to what was contracted.
Taylor was released from custody on $20,000 bond. He is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on May 21.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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