Fraud conviction, impersonating officer charge
Sex trafficking expert has criminal record
by W. Winston Skinner
In June, Tim Taylor of the Metro Atlanta Human Trafficking Task Force spoke to the Grantville City Council – making an impassioned plea to urge involvement in stopping sexual trafficking of teen girls.
Except Tim Taylor isn’t Tim Taylor. His real name is Paul Michael Libri. He has a criminal record and currently faces trial for impersonating a police officer. He claims he uses his pseudonym – the name actor Tim Allen used in the “Home Improvement” television series – to protect himself and his family.
Others feel the false name has been used – at least in part – to cover his checkered past. Although Taylor claims most, if not all the people, at the June 23 council meeting in Grantville knew he was using an assumed name, many did not. Mayor Jim Sells and Councilman Johnny Cooks, who are often at odds with each other politically, both say they were not aware Taylor was really Libri when he addressed the council.
Libri, 42, who lives in the Newnan area, is seen as a pest by police officers – someone in the way when they are trying to solve trafficking cases. Libri speaks with passion about the plight of teen girls forced into prostitution.
“I do this because I care,” he said Monday. “It’s something that just grabbed me. It makes me sick to my stomach that people buy 12-, 13- and 14-year-old girls,” he said.
With regard to law officers’ problems with him, Libri said, “I’m sorry if Coweta County’s got some kind of issue with me. That’s on them.”
“As far as Coweta County is concerned, he has not actually recovered one missing person or been directly involved in one human trafficking case here,” said Investigator Ryan Foles of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office has a human trafficking case that is headed to trial in September, but Libri was not connected with the resolution of the case. “He never made any contact with any of the girls,” Foles said. “He had nothing to do with the recovery of these women.”
During an investigation at one local motel, deputies found Libri and others with MAHTTF on the scene. “We had to tell them to get out of there,” Capt. John Lewis of the sheriff’s office said.
MAHTTF is a Georgia non-profit organization.
Local officers indicated they do not need MAHTTF training – something Libri offered at the Grantville meeting. Lewis, Foles and Lt. Col. James Yarbrough received human trafficking training in February offered by the Georgia Attorney General’s office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
In April, Foles and Sgt. Jason Fetner attended the 2014 Specialized Analytic Seminar at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Global Learning Center. The seminar involved three days of training from instructors with the FBI, ICE, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Foles and Lewis said child sex trafficking does occur and can occur anywhere. “It is not an epidemic in Coweta County,” Foles said. In June of last year, Coweta investigators took part in an undercover operation with the GBI to combat human trafficking. Two prostitutes traveling to Newnan from elsewhere in metro Atlanta were arrested, but no underage victims were involved.
While some familiar with the problem say child prostitutes are being pimped to truckers at truck stops in Coweta, Lewis said that is not the typical scenario any longer. Men are likely to make an online connection with a pimp to meet a girl somewhere.
The Palmetto case against Libri stems from events in October of last year. Libri, using the Tim Taylor identity, reportedly pretended to be an agent with the FBI, GBI and Governor's Office for Children and Families. He was – in a private capacity – investigating the disappearance of a Palmetto girl.
“He did a traffic stop,” Sgt. Lee Gragg of the Palmetto Police Department said Monday. Libri wore a uniform and had a badge and gun. He used a gold-colored Ford Crown Victoria with a siren. Libri's investigation involved stopping and pulling people over for questioning and having citizens tell him personal information.
“We have had a few complaints, mostly because he came on fairly strong,” Gragg said last year. “In a few cases, what he said he might do to people if they did not give him their information went over the line.”
On Oct. 11, Libri was charged with impersonating a police officer, giving a false name, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
“That’s all being dropped,” Libri said Monday. Gragg said the case “is still awaiting trial.”
Gragg also said there is a similar situation involving Libri in Douglas County. In any case, the October arrest is not the first time Libri has run afoul of the law.
On Oct. 27, 2009, the Newnan Police Department charged him with theft by deception. Three years earlier, he was charged by the sheriff’s office with first degree arson and cruelty to animals.
Although he was accused in only one arson case, Libri was described by authorities as a "person of interest" in more than 20 unsolved arson cases in unoccupied homes in Coweta County and possibly some commercial arson cases in other counties. He was sentenced in Coweta Superior Court to serve 90-100 days in a work camp – and 10 years probation – on unrelated fraud charges.
Libri reportedly was released from probation early and given first offender status, allowing his record to be erased. He also was fined $1,100.
The fraud charges related to the use of credit cards Libri had acquired in the names of his wife’s parents and her grandmother. He allegedly stole his in-law’s Discover card on Christmas day 2005. He used the grandmother's personal information to apply for credit cards.
Investigator Beth Suber said he told her "he thought she (the grandmother) would be dead before anyone figured out that he used her personal information to rack up thousands of dollars of debt in her name.” The animal cruelty charge stemmed from shooting a neighbor's poodle with a B.B. gun.
“Did I get all the stuff in my past cleared up? Yes, I did,” Libri said Monday. “My past record is all cleared up.”
Libri said he uses an assumed name with the non-profit because there is a $50,000 price tag on him from sex traffickers who want him stopped. He also said he has concerns for his family’s safety.
The MAHTTF work is “a service to the community that I don’t charge anything to do,” Libri said.
Libri said he often is working with people who are looking for a loved one who is missing, and those people frequently lack resources to pay a private investigator. “From family members, I won’t even take a cup of coffee,” he said.
Shawna Hutcheson, president of parental liaison communications with MAHTTF, confirmed that Libri uses a pseudonym and that others affiliated with the non-profit know that. “It keeps his family safe,” she said.
Doing the kind of work he does, “you kind of like some privacy,” Hutcheson added.
“I’m not going to stop giving seminars,” said Libri, who insisted “word has to get out” for child sex trafficking to stop. “I wasn’t trying to be deceitful about anything.”