Shaneshsa Taylor may no longer have enough of her donated money to fund trusts for her children as required under a deferred-prosecution deal, a court motion states.
Taylor became an Internet sensation after her March arrest for leaving her kids in a hot car during a job interview, in part due to her evocative, tear-filled mugshot. She raised $114,775 in an online fundraiser, and the money helped her negotiate a deal to keep her out of jail with no conviction on her record.
See below for update.
She was supposed to put $30,000 in trusts for her children's education, and another $30,000 in a trust for childcare purposes. As of today, though, with a Monday deadline looming, she still hasn't funded the trust accounts for some unknown reason.
If Taylor screws this up, it'll be an embarrassment not only for herself, but for Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose leniency toward Taylor with the deal also made headlines, for community activity Jarrett Maupin, who says he helped broker the deal, and for Taylor's (non-relative) attorney, Benjamin Taylor.
Benjamin Taylor told reporters after an October 13 hearing for Taylor, and also told New Times this morning, that the trust accounts would be funded. Yet he declined to show New Times any proof that Shanesha Taylor still has $60,000 to put in the accounts.
At the hearing, Superior Court Judge Joseph Welty gave Taylor until October 27 to fund the trust accounts.
The same day, October 13, Deputy County Attorney Faith Klepper filed a motion in court asking Welty to order Shanesha Taylor to prove she has $60,000 left of the $114,775. Welty hasn't yet ruled on the motion.
Klepper notes in her motion that Taylor had been told when the deal with prosecutors was struck in July that the accounts had to be funded "well in advance" of her finishing a mandatory, 26-week parenting class. The trust attorney, apparently someone different than Benjamin Taylor, sent a letter to Montgomery's office on July 15 saying the accounts would be funded by August 5. It never happened.
On August 26, Taylor's attorney requested a "significant amount" of the donated money be set aside for Taylor's living expenses. At about that time, the parties agreed to the figure of $30,000 for the child-care account. Klepper said that when Taylor was asked by Judge Welty why she hadn't yet funded the accounts as of October 13, she told him it was because she "felt getting through the parenting classes first was more important," the motion states.
Taylor's attorney also asked the County Attorney's Office this month whether Taylor could be allowed to fund the accounts only partially, then fund them fully in January when the parenting classes were complete. Prosecutors refused the request.
"Finally, defendant's counsel told the media today (October 13) that defendant had been living off the donated money and that it would soon run out," Klepper wrote in her motion, attributing the media comment to a Channel 5 News (KPHO-TV) article. "Based on these events, the state is concerned that defendant no longer has sufficient funds remaining from the online fundraiser to fund the trusts for the benefit of her children."
Shanesha Taylor, who hasn't found a job since the donations began pouring in, did not respond to a request for comment. She reportedly lives with the biological father of her three children -- a man who she previously said has not contributed over the years to the financial needs of their children.
Her lawyer, Benjamin Taylor, says he never told KPHO or any other media outlet that the donated money would "soon run out." In the a video by Channel 3 News (KTVK-TV) of the October 13 news conference, Taylor insists his client would definitely fund the accounts.
However, Taylor declined to answer questions today about the matter, such as whether his client still possesses enough of the donated funds to comply with the plea deal, why the trust accounts haven't been funded yet, and why Taylor asked to delay funding the accounts.
If Shanesha Taylor does not comply with the terms of the deferred-prosecution agreement, "she will be prosecuted on the charges filed," Montgomery's spokesman, Jerry Cobb, tells New Times.
We'll all find out by Monday what she does.
UPDATE: Monday, October 27: Shanesha Taylor Fails to Fund Kids' Trusts; UPDATE: Prosecution to Move Forward
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.