Fire Department embezzlement case ends with guilty plea

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Bowers

Bowers

New Bern, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that, in Craven County Superior Court on Tuesday, THOMAS BENJAMIN BOWERS, II, 50, of New Bern, pleaded guilty to felony charges of fraud and embezzlement. Resident Superior Court Judge John Nobles presided, and the case was prosecuted in court by Financial Crimes Prosecutor Tonya Montanye, under the direction of the District Attorney.

BOWERS, an ex-volunteer fireman with Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department, used a credit card that he was provided to use for legitimate expenditures on personal purchases including meals, hotel stays, and out-of-state travel, when no legitimate reason existed for the expenditures, such as training. BOWERS also performed repair work for the Department and billed the Department for placing gutters on the Truitt substation, although he never in fact placed the gutters on the substation. It was never determined if BOWERS paid for the gutters when purchased, or if they were in fact billed to the Department. Nonetheless, after receiving initial payment for placing the gutters on the substation when they had not been placed on the substation, BOWERS later billed the Department for installation again and received payment. He also billed the Department for the gutters two more times and received payment. BOWERS also charged three pairs of boots to the Department account at Big M Equipment LLC when the boots were not for fire department use. BOWERS sold the Department a radio that they already owned, by creating a false invoice and stating he had purchased it for the Department to use.

BOWERS pled guilty to one count of felony Embezzlement, and six counts of felony Obtaining Property by False Pretense. Judge Nobles sentenced BOWERS to two consecutive 6 to 17 month sentences, but suspended those sentences, and placed BOWERS on supervised probation for two years. BOWERS paid full restitution of $ 31,651.09, which includes the costs of the investigation, at the time of his plea. In addition to the regular terms of probation, Judge Nobles added the following special


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conditions: (1) that BOWERS perform 80 hours of community service; (2) that BOWERS is not to serve as a volunteer firefighter while on probation; (3) that BOWERS cannot perform handyman or repair work for any government agency or any agency that uses taxpayer funds; (4) that BOWERS cannot serve in any fiduciary capacity while on probation; and (5) that BOWERS cannot hold any position where he would handle any money, debit cards, credit cards, or gift cards belonging to another person while on probation, whether online, in person, or by telephone.

The case was investigated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

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