Carrie L. Taylor Pleads Guilty to Theft from Cecil County GOP Committee; Stole $ for Online Dating Services, Travel

August 18, 2015

Carrie L. Taylor, the former treasurer of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, has pleaded guilty to felony charges of stealing over $8,859 from donations and using the money to buy personal airline tickets and membership in an online dating service, according to the Office of the State Prosecutor. She will be sentenced November 17 and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Taylor appeared in the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Monday to enter her guilty plea before Judge Michele D. Jaklitsch, who accepted the plea and restricted Taylor to her home, except for work, pending the November sentencing. Since Taylor entered a plea deal and avoided a trial on the three-count indictment against her for theft and perjury, it is likely she will receive a substantially lesser sentence than the maximum she could have faced.

Prior to the plea deal being entered into the court record, the State Prosecutor was prepared to proceed with a trial in late August, and agents of that office had recently appeared in Cecil County to serve subpoenas on former members of the GOP committee to testify at a trial, sources told Cecil Times.

On Monday, a “statement of facts” was entered into evidence in court, stating that Taylor “made numerous unauthorized purchases” using a Central Committee bank account’s debit card and she also misappropriated cash from several Central Committee fundraising events. (The major GOP central committee fundraising event is the annual chicken BBQ held at the Cecil County Fair.)

Among her personal purchases, using donated funds taken from the GOP committee, were “two airline tickets, a membership with an online dating website, and payment of parking garage fees at her place of employment, between December 2010 and December 2014,” according to a statement from the Prosecutor’s office. The State Prosecutor, whose office is authorized to investigate cases of corruption and political chicanery, calculated that Taylor stole $8,859.69 from the county GOP committee.

The State Prosecutor returned an indictment against Taylor in March. [SEE previous CECIL TIMES report here: ]

Taylor was a protégé of the local “Smipkin” political machine, headed by former state Sen. E.J. Pipkin and Del. Michael Smigiel, both R-36th District. Pipkin’s wife helped install Taylor as chair of the county Republican Women’s Club, which then became a campaign cash conduit for moving political funds around to support candidates favored by the Smipkin machine—including Taylor herself, who ran unsuccessfully for Cecil County Treasurer in the GOP primary.

The Smipkins also ran a slate of candidates that assumed overwhelming control of the nine-member Republican Central Committee in the 2010 local primary election. [SEE past CECIL TIMES political news coverage of Taylor and the Smipkins via our Search bar on the lower left side of our home page.] Taylor was also appointed to a seat on the county’s Liquor Board, paying her $2,500 a year, thanks to her Smipkin political support.

But the Smipkin slate on the Central Committee went down to resounding defeat when members ran for re-election in the 2014 primary election, with just two holdovers clinging to seats for a few months before they resigned their positions. Taylor was not re-elected to a seat on the GOP committee. In that same election, Smigiel was defeated in the GOP primary for re-election to his state delegate seat, and Pipkin was long gone after having resigned his state Senate seat to move to Texas.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said, in a statement issued on Tuesday 8/18/2015, that “Carrie Taylor quite simply abused the trust that the Cecil County Republican Central Committee placed in her. Committee treasurers must recognize that misuse of committee funds for personal use cannot be tolerated.”

The personal avarice of the charges cited by the State Prosecutor is illuminating. Taylor tried to claim that she stole the money to pay for needed basic expenses, such as housing, the prosecutor said. But, in fact, the investigation by law enforcement agencies found that Taylor had squandered nearly $9,000 of committee funds on personal luxuries, such as airline travel, parking, and online dating service fees.

When she first came into the local political eye, Taylor was listed on state records as a co-owner of a home in the county with a man identified at the time by friends as her fiancé. However, subsequently that situation apparently changed. She was often seen at local events in the company of another political figure, who is no longer in office.

The Central Committee of a political party is empowered by state law to support candidates of that party, hold fundraising events and get-out-the-vote drives, as well as crafting and paying for political messages and ads on behalf of candidates from the political party. Members of the Central Committee are elected by voters registered as members of the party, casting their ballots in the party’s primary election. The Central Committee is required by law to file financial disclosure statements with the State Board of Elections.

Part of the State Prosecutor’s case against Taylor stems from falsified campaign finance reports she filed and signed, as the committee treasurer, in January, 2014. The Prosecutor noted that Taylor also “fabricated a story about the bank account being closed by someone else and claimed to have received a letter from someone at PNC Bank supporting this.”

However, when state officials pursued the matter, Taylor eventually “admitted to fabricating the letter, and the story, about the account being closed by someone else. The account was in fact closed by the bank for insufficient funds in December of 2013.” After being “confronted by investigators from the Office of the State Prosecutor,” Taylor “eventually admitted” stealing the money from the committee account “for her own use.” The Prosecutor said the case was referred to his office by the local Central Committee.

Taylor’s criminal case is the final nail in the coffin of the old Smipkin political machine that once ruled Cecil County politics and government with an iron grip, based on Pipkin’s money and Smigiel’s political muscle and rhetorical bluster. The Smipkin-backed “Three Amigos” majority of the old board of County Commissioners was cut to a minority of two hangers-on in the 2012 elections and the last remnants were ousted in 2014.

A new non-Smipkin Republican Central Committee is now in place, and by all accounts harmony prevailed at this year’s county fair, when the traditional chicken BBQ was again a successful fundraising event. And the current committee members even know how to cook—unlike the legendary tales of the Smipkin-era panel whose members were clueless on how to organize the event, cook and serve barbecued chicken to the masses at the fair.

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7 Responses to Carrie L. Taylor Pleads Guilty to Theft from Cecil County GOP Committee; Stole $ for Online Dating Services, Travel

  1. DW Senn on August 20, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I can’t think of a better group to steal money from.

    • Bob Laird on August 24, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      And why is that, Mr. Senn?

  2. Joe C on August 22, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Dear Cecil Times,
    Thank you for the positive comments about this years chicken BBQ, Diane C. did a great job as Chair of the BBQ energizing the new committee on how to get the job done as none of the new committee had participated in a Cecil County Fair BBQ before.

    • David W on August 24, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Joe, you served on this same Republican Central Committee with Carrie Taylor. How did she steal almost $9K over four years? Didn’t the Central Committee have some sort of Treasurer reports? How could you not know what was going on – or at least that there was something wrong?

      • Joe C on August 27, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        Thank you for the question. Yes, I was a member, but not an officer in this particular central committee. I repeatedly asked for reports and bank statements, if you were ever at a meeting you would have heard it. I also reviewed all filed reports with the state campaign finance office (available on line) on my own, no one suspected that she would commit perjury also! I also was heavily involved with investigation, along with others, once the theft was known for sure. Carrie was the Treasurer and was solely responsible for the funds of the committee, she failed in her duties and our justice system did its job. End of a sad story!

        • David W on August 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm

          Thanks for replying, Joe. I appreciate you asking the right questions. What was the response from the rest of the central committee to your requests for reports and statements? Are there minutes from these meetings? This appears to go way beyond perjury.

          • Joe C on August 30, 2015 at 9:35 pm

            There were some minutes, but mostly they did not cover the detail that one would want. Mr. Gorman did a good job once he took over for Ted P. but it was late in the game. As you are aware the office of state prosecutor handled the investigation, several members including myself cooperated with them and provided what records we had. They filed three charges and perjury was one of them. Not sure what your statement “this appears..” is getting at, but it is all over but the sentencing of Ms. Taylor.

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