Former Senior Chief Petty Officer Pleads Guilty to False Impersonation of a Federal Employee Charge
New Bern – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that in federal court today THOMAS R. BOWES, 53, of Camden, North Carolina, pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge James E. Gates to false impersonation of an officer or employee of the United States, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 912.
According to the Criminal Information filed on April 27, 2018, and information presented in open court, THOMAS R. BOWES retired from the U.S. Coast Guard on November 30, 2013, as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. Thereafter, he formed his own company. He choose, however, to misappropriate the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) seal without authorization. In his dealings with suppliers, BOWES falsely held himself out as a Sr. Sniper Instructor, Dept. Homeland Security, Southeast Task Force, and signed letters “Chief Thomas Bowes, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” He did so to obtain various things of value, including but not limited to, expedited service from merchants, entry into various sniper competitions, and arguably, a government discount from the merchants as he sought pricing for “DHS sniper team” or the “Homeland Security Sniper Team.” In one instance, BOWES falsely represented himself as an employee of the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to secure expedited work on a firearm, writing that his “commanding officer” needed answers as they were “30 days into a hostage crises.” A search of BOWES’ emails revealed that between July 2, 2014, and November 13, 2016, he sent approximately 126 emails in which he falsely represented himself as an employee of the Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Higdon commented: “The privilege of exercising the responsibility and powers of the federal government is protected by those laws which govern the use of the insignia, seals and other representations of federal authority. These laws ensure that those empowered by the public are the only ones who exercise that authority and they likewise protect the public from those who would defraud them under the guise of federal power. The defendant – himself a former federal official who certainly knows better – attempted to benefit himself and defraud others by claiming a position and influence he did not rightly possess. This prosecution sends a clear message to anyone else who might falsely impersonate a federal official that there will be consequences for the crime.”
“This investigation demonstrated the importance of protecting the integrity of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) by holding accountable those who use official DHS and USCG government symbols, words and phrases to deceive or mislead the public,” commented Marty J. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of the Coast Guard Investigative Service.
“This defendant plead guilty to false impersonation and the misrepresentation of himself as being affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security, for personal gains. This office will remain vigilant in seeking the prosecution of those, who are intent on misrepresenting the Department of Homeland Security, its 22 federal agencies, services, and programs,” said James E. Ward, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General.
At sentencing, BOWES faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years, and/or $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the United States Department of Homeland Security – Office of the Inspector General and the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Chesapeake Region. Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan is handling the prosecution on behalf to the Eastern District of North Carolina.