Shirley Taylor

AUGUSTA, GA:  The former office manager for an Augusta medical practice has been sentenced after admitting she stole more than half a million dollars from the business.

Shirley Ann Taylor, 65, of Gibson, Ga., was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to an Information charging her with nine counts of Wire Fraud, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall also ordered Taylor to pay $1,163,091.68 in restitution, and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of her prison term.

There is no parole in the federal system.

“Shirley Ann Taylor violated the trust of her employer and fellow employees to enrich herself at the company’s expense,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Thanks to the vigilance of a fellow employee, she’s now being held accountable for her thefts.”

As described in court documents and testimony, Taylor was employed at an Augusta medical practice from 2006 to 2020 as the office and payroll manager. The year after she was hired, Taylor began stealing from her employer by inflating her own pay and writing unauthorized company checks which she deposited in her own account or used to pay her mortgage.

The company in 2020 hired a new office manager who quickly noted accounting discrepancies amounting to nearly $1.2 million. In her guilty plea, Taylor accepted responsibility for stealing a minimum of $550,000 from the company.

“Taylor threw away an important position in a company that entrusted her by stealing money she didn’t deserve,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Now she is being held accountable for her actions, thanks the cooperative efforts from the company and our law enforcement partners.”

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia G. Rhodes.

The Jail Report’s original story from April 2020:

At Augusta Lung Associates: Payroll Manager Gave Herself a $100,000 Raise

The long-time payroll manager at Augusta Lung Associates was arrested for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a sheriff’s report.

Shirley Ann Taylor, 64, of Sunshine Court, Avera, was charged with felony theft by deception.

The suspect’s scheme was likely uncovered when she went on medical leave in November. The new payroll manager was hired in February, and the theft was reported April 6.

The new manager told authorities that Taylor had been increasing her annual pay without authorization for 10 years, except in 2016 when it went down a little. Taylor had worked there since 2006.

On Feb. 10, a week before the new payroll manager took over, Taylor remotely went into the company’s system and  changed her annual salary from $165,000 back down to $66,000, the report says.

The new manager was “amassing the paperwork and evidence to corroborate the allegations,” a February report says.

A sheriff’s report says that a relative of Fulcher also works there and was given unauthorized hourly wage increases from her proper pay of $14 an hour to $18 an hour. Bimonthly payroll checks were deposited into Taylor’s accounts as well as her relatives’.

Taylor allegedly took $553,432 over the last decade, a sheriff’s report says. It’s unclear whether that figure included some legitimate pay.

What is Augusta Lung? According to the business website, the office at 1301 Broad Street is dedicated to the practice of pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, providing comprehensive care for patients with lung disease. The business also offers care and diagnostic services for patients with lung disorders such as chronic obstructive lung disease, asthma, sleep apnea, interstitial lung disease and lung cancer.