Clark County

Former Apollo Oil manager pleads guilty to wire fraud in theft of $3 million from his employer

Apollo Oil LLC of Winchester, one of the largest lubricant companies in the U.S., accused Bradley Taylor, former operations manager, of directing millions for his own use.
Apollo Oil LLC of Winchester, one of the largest lubricant companies in the U.S., accused Bradley Taylor, former operations manager, of directing millions for his own use. Lexington Herald-Leader

A Winchester man has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of wire fraud for his scheme to steal more than $3 million from his employer, a Clark County wholesale oil distributorship.

Bradley E. Taylor, 38, entered the plea Monday before U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves in Lexington. Court documents filed Monday describe in detail how Taylor stole the money.

Taylor was operations manager for Apollo Oil LLC in Winchester, where he was responsible for managing inventory levels and ordering bulk products for the company. Apollo provides oils and other products from Valvoline, Shell, Castrol and other manufacturers to car dealerships, quick-lube stores, trucking companies and factories.

Court documents say that over a 10-year period, from May 2004 to Aug. 6, 2014, Taylor devised "a scheme to defraud and obtain money by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses" from Apollo.

He fabricated purchase orders, invoices, and shipping documents reflecting fictitious purchases of bulk oil products from a company Taylor created called BCW, court records say.

Taylor provided fabricated documentation to Apollo, causing Apollo to issue checks to BCW for the products purportedly being bought. Apollo placed each check in the mail, "addressed to the BCW address that Apollo had on record," court records say.

Taylor personally obtained each check that Apollo issued through a post office box corresponding to the BCW address. In some instances, Taylor waited for the checks to be delivered through the mail. In other instances, Taylor removed the BCW checks from Apollo's outgoing mail.

He then deposited the checks into a bank account that he'd opened in the name of BCW, then he converted the money into cash or deposited it into other bank accounts that he maintained for his own use.

Because Apollo received no products from BCW, Taylor manipulated Apollo's electronic inventory system to conceal his fraud, the records say. He also temporarily removed records of the BCW products from the electronic inventory system when he anticipated Apollo would audit its physical inventory.

To make the BCW transactions appear legitimate and to conceal his fraud, Taylor opened an email account to pose as a nonexistent BCW employee named "Billy Williams," and used that email account to correspond about fictitious BCW transactions.

Over the 10-year period, Taylor caused Apollo to issue about 232 checks payable to BCW. The total amount stolen from Apollo was $3,055,422.33, the court records say.

The theft was discovered in August 2014 when Apollo Oil employees began reviewing inventory discrepancies, according to a lawsuit filed by Apollo Oil in Clark County. Apollo contacted the FBI, and during an investigation, Taylor admitted to the theft.

Taylor was charged with wire fraud because the email account, hosted by Google, was used in the fraudulent scheme.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

The fraud was described not in an indictment but in an information. An information is a written accusation of a crime signed only by a prosecutor. It allows a criminal case to proceed without going to a grand jury.

Judge Reeves scheduled sentencing for Jan. 27 in Lexington. Taylor is free until sentencing, but a condition of his release is that he must not make any financial transactions of more than $5,000 without approval from the U.S. Probation Office.

In July, Clark Circuit Court Judge William Clouse ordered Taylor to pay $3.05 million plus 12 percent annual interest.

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