July 07, 2015 - 4:30 PM
ZIONSVILLE, Ind. - FBI agents and Indiana State Police raided the home of Subway restaurant spokesman Jared Fogle on Tuesday, removing electronics from the property and searching the house with a police dog, two months after the then-executive director of Fogle's foundation was arrested on child pornography charges.
FBI agent Wendy Osborne said the agency was conducting an investigation in Zionsville, an affluent Indianapolis suburb, but wouldn't say whether it involved Fogle or describe the nature of the investigation.
Subway said in a statement that it is "very concerned" about the raid, which it believes "is related to a prior investigation" of a former employee of the Jared Foundation, an organization founded by Fogle to raise awareness about childhood obesity. Subway did not immediately say whether that employee was former foundation executive director Russell Taylor.
The company had removed references to Fogle from its website by late afternoon and issued another statement, saying the two "have mutually agreed to suspend their relationship due to the current investigation."
"Jared continues to co-operate with authorities and he expects no actions to be forthcoming," the company said. "Both Jared and Subway agree that this was the appropriate step to take."
Federal prosecutors in May filed a criminal complaint charging Taylor, 43, with seven counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Fogle issued a statement after the charges were filed saying he was shocked by the allegations and was severing all ties with Taylor.
The Indianapolis Star photographed Fogle stepping out of a police evidence van parked outside his home Tuesday morning, and he left the house just after noon with attorney Ron Elberger. Fogle declined to comment, but Elberger later released a statement saying his client is co-operating with authorities.
"Jared has been co-operating, and continues to co-operate, with law enforcement in their investigation of unspecified charges, and looks forward to its conclusion," Elberger said.
Fogle, 37, became the Subway restaurant chain's pitchman after shedding 245 pounds more than 15 years ago, in part by regularly eating Subway sandwiches. Subway began featuring Fogle in commercials soon after, and his story was instrumental in giving the sandwich chain an image as a healthy place to eat.
During a search of Taylor's home this spring, federal investigators say they discovered a cache of sexually explicit photos and videos Taylor allegedly produced by secretly filming minor children at the home. They said they also allegedly found more than 400 videos of child pornography on computers and storage media recovered from Taylor's home office in his Indianapolis residence.
Taylor's attorney, Brad Banks, said Tuesday his client was briefly hospitalized after the allegations surfaced but is now in federal custody. Sheriff's officials have said Taylor tried to take his own life in jail.
"The only thing I can say is that I'm aware that there's an ongoing investigation," Banks said.
Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Indianapolis, said prosecutors "are moving forward" with the case against Taylor. He declined to comment on Tuesday's raid at Fogle's home.
Neighbours said Fogle and his wife entertained frequently and would say hello but that they didn't see the couple outside a lot.
Jacob Schrader, 19, who lives across from Fogle's house, said the pitchman seems "like a pretty private guy" and that he'd only seen him about a dozen times in the last five or six years.
"He's like an endangered species or something like that," Schrader said.
Subway, which is based in Milford, Connecticut, and is privately held, has struggled in recent years. Last year, industry tracker Technomic said average sales for Subway stores in the U.S. declined 3 per cent from the previous year. The company has about 44,000 locations around the world.
News from © The Associated Press, 2015