A private film maker stood up in a near-deserted federal courtroom in Manhattan this morning to plead guilty to stealing tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue that should have gone to the city.
Vincent Taylor, 50, pled to a single count of wire fraud before federal District Judge Harold Baer. Taylor said that he had been enlisted in the scheme in March, 2007, by Trevor Scotland, former chief operating officer of NYC-TV, the city’s wholly owned television production studios.
Taylor told Baer that he had been trying to persuade Scotland to use public service ads he had made about diabetes and childhood obesity when Scotland asked him in March,2007, to submit bogus invoices for ad work that he hadn’t done.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I was afraid that the chief operating officer [Scotland] would blacklist me,” Taylor said.
Scotland pled guilty to his own role in the scheme last week. A Vassar graduate with a masters degree in public administration, Scotland had been the $99,000 a year number two executive at the station before city investigators tumbled to his thefts last year.
Investigators discovered the scheme while probing allegations of wide-spread abuse at the city agency, including charges that top executives at the station were using city time and resources to work on their own projects.
Since the probe — reported this summer in the Voice – four former top employees at the station have been forced out of the agency, including the station’s former executive director, Arick Wierson.
Scotland told probers that he was able to get away with his scheme because Wierson was often not around and had allowed him to sign Wierson’s name to documents.
Taylor faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but assistant U.S. attorney Brent Wible told the court that prosecutors estimate that, under sentencing guidelines, Taylor’s crimes are punishable with a sentence of from 8-14 months. Taylor’s attorney, Peggy Cross, declined comment.