Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Lieutenant retires to clear theft charges




By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Police Lt. M. Aaron “Mel” Taylor voluntarily retired from the police department Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors that also wiped out the criminal theft charges he faced.

[photo] Lt. M. Aaron Taylor, left, talks with Scotty Johnson, President of the Sentinel Police Association Tuesday in the Hamilton County courtroom.
([name of photographer] photo)
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The 22-year police veteran and former commander of the department's Youth Services Section had been suspended without pay since his 10-count indictment last year.

He was charged with taking funds meant for disadvantaged children and using them for the Roselawn Substation Support Group, a nonprofit he ran from the basement of a Stillwell Road building he owns.

He also was accused of using his position to bilk a city agency out of money and a suburban school district out of computers he said would go to needy kids.

If convicted as charged, he could have been sentenced to more than 23 years in prison. However, because of Tuesday's deal, the indictment was dismissed and the Roselawn Substation Support Group was found guilty of two felony counts of tampering with records. The deal was negotiated by prosecutors and Lt. Taylor's attorney, Kenneth Lawson. Hamilton County Common Pleas Visiting Judge John O'Connor fined the nonprofit $3,500 - money that would be taken out of approximately $29,000 authorities seized from two accounts it held.

The remainder of that money, which prosecutors said belonged to Lt. Taylor, would be returned to the lieutenant.

Lt. Taylor, 48, also agreed - another condition of the deal - not to seek re-employment with the Cincinnati Police Department. His pension will not be affected, Mr. Lawson said.His retirement is effective immediately.

Lt. Kurt Byrd, police department spokesman, could not be reached for comment.Promoted to lieutenant in 1993, Lt. Taylor created the police department's Scouting and Community Oriented Policing Efforts (SCOPE) program, a mentoring initiative that pairs needy kids with police officers.

While waiting Tuesday for his case to go before Judge O'Connor, he was greeted by a number of Cincinnati police officers. They sat in rows behind the lieutenant and appeared to offer him encouragement and support.

Among them were Cincinnati Police Spec. Scotty Johnson, head of the Sentinels Police Association, an organization composed of African-American police officers, and retired Cincinnati Police Lt. Col. Ron Twitty.

E-mail mmccain@enquirer.com



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