Former head of Jared Fogle charity reaches plea deal

Russell Taylor has agreed to plead guilty to child pornography and exploitation charges.

Story highlights

  • Russell Taylor's attorney says client expects to spend many years in prison, will accept court's sentence
  • He agrees to plead guilty to charges of child exploitation and distributing and receiving child pornography
  • Prosecutors say conspiracy involved former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle

(CNN)The onetime director of Jared Fogle's charity has agreed to plead guilty to charges of child exploitation and distributing and receiving child pornography as part of a conspiracy with the former Subway pitchman, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis said Tuesday.

The plea agreement with Russell Taylor, 43, a former head of the charity focusing on children's health, comes less than two weeks after his friend and once-celebrated face of the sandwich chain pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.
"Protecting those who cannot protect themselves will always be a priority," U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler said in a statement. "Adults who sexually exploit children by producing child pornography knowingly cause vast harm to their victims and should expect appropriately strong punishment."
    Under the plea agreement, Taylor cannot ask the court for a prison sentence under 15 years in imprisonment. The court will have to approve the agreement -- under which the government will recommend a sentence of up to 35 years in prison plus supervised release for the remainder of Taylor's life.
    "Mr. Taylor takes full responsibility for his role in this matter involving Mr. Fogle," his attorney, Brad Banks, told the media. "Mr. Taylor is agreeing to a plea that contemplates the possibility of him doing a very lengthy amount of time in prison. Mr. Taylor accepts whatever punishment that is handed down by the court."
    The agreement said Taylor will adhere to a pornography ban and sexual disorders treatment, and he will have no unsupervised visits with minors, among other requirements. Computer monitoring will be required, too.
    Taylor's downfall began in late April, when Indiana State Police detectives got information that former charity head possessed illegal pornographic images, according to the U.S. attorney's statement. They uncovered a cache of sexually explicit photos and videos produced when Taylor secretly filmed minors at his home.
    Investigators found more than 400 child pornography videos on computers, cell phones and other devices in a home office, according to federal prosecutors. The videos were produced in his Indianapolis residences between March 2011 and January 2015.
    A dozen minors were involved, including some related to Taylor, according to a complaint.
    Taylor and Fogle discussed the secret production of the videos in Taylor's homes, and Fogle obtained a significant amount of the material, according to prosecutors.
    In addition, Taylor provided Fogle with child pornography he downloaded from the Internet involving children as young as 6, prosecutors said.
    The complaint said on Taylor on multiple occasions shared child pornography with Fogle on a computer that Taylor owned. Taylor also shared images and videos through text messages and a thumb drive.
    Fogle, 37, who was charged on August 19, pleaded guilty last month to child pornography charges and to crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors. The plea deal would see Fogle serve between five and 12½ years in prison.
    Fogle was the better known of the two friends. He became a household name as "Jared from Subway" after a dramatic weight loss that he attributed to eating at Subway restaurants. In 2000, the sandwich chain released a commercial centered on Fogle's claims that he dropped about 245 pounds -- from a peak weight of 425 -- in one year as an Indiana University student, thanks in part to exercise and a simpler diet involving Subway subs.
    But the sandwich chain suspended its relationship with Fogle earlier this year after investigators raided his Indiana home.
    Fogle will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on November 19.
    Taylor's attorney, Bradley Banks, declined comment through a representative of his office, Adam Brower. Taylor is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshal, prosecutors said.