Adam Taylor is placed in handcuffs and led out of the courtroom

Paul Wellman

Adam Taylor is placed in handcuffs and led out of the courtroom

Montecito Motors Father and Son Headed to Prison

13-Year and 11-Year Sentences Planned for Chet and Adam Taylor, Respectively

Friday, May 18, 2012
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The father-and-son team who ran Montecito Motors, a high-end used-car dealership that abruptly closed in 2010 amid suspicions of criminal activity, pleaded no contest Thursday to 46 total felony charges of conspiracy, grand theft, and tax evasion, part of a plea deal that will mean lengthy prison terms for both.

Chet Taylor, 71, and his son Adam Taylor, 41, were accused of delaying and withholding payments to customers whose cars they sold out of their downtown Santa Barbara lot on consignment, then ducking the customers’ calls and lying to their faces. They were also charged with forging signatures, filing false tax returns, and misleading creditors. Chet will be sentenced next month to 13 years in state prison. Adam will be sentenced to 11 years. Chet’s daughter, Sarah Taylor Swing, and his wife, Jennifer Taylor, pleaded guilty to one count each of misdemeanor tax evasion and were ordered to pay restitution and fines — Sarah, around $8,000, and Jennifer, approximately $66,000.

Chet Taylor is lead out of the courtroom by a bailiff
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Chet Taylor is lead out of the courtroom by a bailiff

The District Attorney’s Office estimates the Taylors stole $1.2 million from 27 of their customers over a period of six or so years. At a hearing scheduled for June 21, a judge will tally what each victim is owed. Adam, the official owner of Montecito Motors, was ordered Thursday by Judge Clifford Anderson to pay the state $2.28 million in unpaid business sales tax and $2.9 million in business income tax. Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota, who prosecuted the case, said the tax evasions went as far back as 1998.

It’s unlikely, however, that the state or the Taylors’ customers will be paid anytime soon, explained Cota. His office — during a nearly two-year investigation with the state Franchise Tax Board and California Board of Equalization — found virtually no assets to seize. Most of the money the Taylors stole was either spent on a lavish lifestyle or sunk into at least four homes with underwater mortgages that have since been foreclosed on. The restitution payment orders will remain in place until they’re satisfied, Cota explained.

Sarah Taylor Swing (striped shirt) and Jennifer Taylor (black shirt, necklace) watch as Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota reads out charges
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Sarah Taylor Swing (striped shirt) and Jennifer Taylor (black shirt, necklace) watch as Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota reads out charges

Adam and Chet were also charged with a white-collar-crime enhancement, which means they’ll serve their time in state prison instead of County Jail, where most offenders with nonviolent and non-sex-related crimes are housed since a new inmate placement law was passed last October. If they had chosen to take the case to trial, they would have faced prison sentences of 30 years or more. Cota said in an earlier plea agreement the father and son agreed to 12 years each, but Chet offered to take an extra year in prison so Adam’s sentence would be reduced.

While the four family members remained relatively stoic throughout Thursday’s hearing, Sarah sobbed silently as Cota read her brother Adam’s 24 felony charges one by one. Chet, before he was led away in handcuffs, pulled out a folded stack of cash and handed it to his lawyer, who then passed the money to Jennifer. A few of the Taylors’ victims were present but declined to speak to the media. They will have a chance to address the Taylors and the court at the June 21 restitution hearing.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Justice is served!!

denp1717 (anonymous profile)
May 18, 2012 at 7:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A cautionary tale to ALL of us about how easily money and power can corrupt people.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 18, 2012 at 8:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Justice will be served when the victims get restitution.

taz (anonymous profile)
May 18, 2012 at 8:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is a typically story of financial stress. Not much different than consumers that borrow against credit cards, and then goes bankrupt when they can not repay. However what these guys did is illegal as why they borrowed was not 'lent' by the lender.
It probably all started with the intent to pay the 'lenders' the next month when business was better, but business never got better and the snow ball kept rolling..

loneranger (anonymous profile)
May 20, 2012 at 10:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

loneranger, in a typical story of financial distress, do people sell other people's property without their permission?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 20, 2012 at 11:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken - do people use other people's money (via credit cards) and then not pay it back? Is there really any difference?

loneranger (anonymous profile)
May 20, 2012 at 6:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am still amazed that a rapist got less time than these guys.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
May 20, 2012 at 9:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

AZ2SB, I'm amazed too. I think it must be the tax evasion charges. Even the most ordinary criminal should know by now, pay your taxes! Tell them you made the money at a lemonade stand, whatever, just do it.

Just the financial penalties alone are killer. Original amount stolen: 1.2 million. Amount owed including back taxes, penalties and interest: 5+ milllion.

Nitz (anonymous profile)
May 21, 2012 at 7:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The past tense of "lead" is "led."


vwalton (anonymous profile)
May 21, 2012 at 7:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks, we've corrected the photo description.

webadmin (webadmin)
May 21, 2012 at 8:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

loneranger... This is far from a story of typical financial stress. Nor is it a story of a bad business environment. It is a story of fraud, deceit, dishonesty, bad character and a feeling of entitlement. It is one thing using a little clients money to keep your business afloat and totally another to use it to support a lavish lifestyle. (both wrong) $1.2 million embezzled proceeds from customers vehicles over a several year time frame is not borrowing $1000 one month and not paying it back the next. This is one thing that is very wrong with our society..were always trying to justify our bad behavior.

sblife (anonymous profile)
May 21, 2012 at 8:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I have no issues with them the tax evasion end, who on earth wants to spend money on high tech weaponry and blow it up on the other side of the world, anyway? Who wants to pay for the enforcement arm of the biggest criminal banks and corporations in the world? The only reason I pay taxes is so I don't go to jail, but there certainly isn't anything wrong with not paying taxes from a moral aspect.

Unfortunately tax evasion is probably the only reason they were brought up on charges.

These guys do sound like scumbags though and they did need to stand in front of a judge. I wish they could pay back all of their real victims and not the IRS.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
May 21, 2012 at 2:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So, "loneranger" and "loonpt," you feel compelled to explain away and defend these two felons who:

-- stole an average of $45,000 from 27 different clients -- our friends and neighbors?

-- took that money and bought four houses, (which, no surprise, are now 'underwater,') further fraudulently fleecing other unsuspecting businesses?

-- unlike other downtown businesses, these shysters lied, ducked, and underpaid their share of taxes, while investing the extra cash in their 'lavish lifestyle.' (I wonder what disadvantage this put the law-abiding used auto dealers in the area?)

binky (anonymous profile)
May 21, 2012 at 3:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

These guys are crooks, lock em' up, put em' to work & make em' pay their victims back. Now they can "lavishly" live in their new state sponsored digs.
Don't feel sorry for these clowns, they got the end result of stealing from people & trying to live the high life w/ the ill-gotten gains. Here's the part I loved:

"Chet, before he was led away in handcuffs, pulled out a folded stack of cash and handed it to his lawyer, who then passed the money to Jennifer. "

SHEESH! What a class act! Don't blow it all in 1 place Jenny dear, you're next on the list :) henry

hank (anonymous profile)
May 21, 2012 at 6:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They still have money and will always have money. Justice would have been freezing all of their assets and taking every penny away from them until they were living at the Rescue Mission.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
May 22, 2012 at 9:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I have waited on Adam and his family for several years and this whole story makes me so sad. Despite everything, Adam is a good man and always treated everyone around him kindly and respectfully. My heart goes out to his wife and kids.

ktpees (anonymous profile)
May 22, 2012 at 7:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah & his wife probably was in the know on this matter. As for Adam "being a good man" like you say, well, a "good man" is now gonna serve 11 years in the pokey. Must be nice to be a "good man" such as Adam. A "good man" I (& many others) will aspire to NOT be like :) henry

hank (anonymous profile)
May 23, 2012 at 12:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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