Former Lake Saint Louis officer gets probation in theft

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
BYLINE: Shane Anthony, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Lake Saint Louis, MO

Jan. 2 -- ST. CHARLES COUNTY -- A St. Charles County circuit judge placed a former Lake Saint Louis police officer on probation this morning for stealing nearly $14,000 from the department's evidence room.

Stephen K. Taylor, 30, of the 900 block of Ardsley Court in O'Fallon, pleaded guilty in November to one count of felony stealing. He took the money between February 2005 and his resignation in August 2007. He worked for the department for six years and was one of two officers who managed the evidence room. Police Chief Mike Force could not be reached for comment.

Assistant prosecutor Breck Burgess asked for a five-year prison sentence. He said the crime was one of public corruption, and it casts doubt on the entire legal system. Officers like Taylor are trusted to make sure evidence is not tainted, he said.  Taylor's attorney could not be reached.

Taylor has paid back the stolen money. He told police he had used it to pay bills and credit card debt. Police have said his resignation was not tied to the theft.

Circuit Judge Ted House placed Taylor on probation for the next five years. Taylor must complete financial management courses, and he is barred from working as a police officer during his probation. He will have a felony conviction on his record.

Officials from the Missouri Police Officer Standards and Training Program could not be reached Friday to answer questions about Taylor's certification. State law says the director of the Department of Public Safety can suspend the license of any officer who is indicted for, charged with or convicted of a felony.

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