Bixby Man Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Acquiring Almost $28,000 Worth of Commercial Products from a California Company
A former chief financial officer for a company with offices in Oklahoma pleaded guilty in federal court after failing to pay over to the IRS $3.6 million in income and FICA tax withholdings and for embezzling more than $130,000 from the company.
Paul B. Bowker, 60, a British national, fled the United States three years ago after being charged with the crimes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office eventually received a tip that led to Bowker’s arrest by local authorities in the United Kingdom. The Justice Department's Office of International Affairs worked with officials from the United Kingdom to ensure Bowker's extradition to the United States for prosecution.
Today, Bowker pleaded guilty to one count of failure to account for and pay over withholding and FICA (Social Security) taxes and one count of bank fraud. A federal judge will sentence Bowker at a later date.
At the time of the crime, Bowker was the chief financial officer and vice president of finance at a company that maintained offices in the Northern District of Oklahoma. In his role at the company, Bowker was responsible for withholding income taxes and FICA taxes from employees’ paychecks and for paying the monies over to the IRS. According to court document, from April 2014 through January 2016, Bowker withheld the funds but willfully failed to file quarterly employment tax returns for the company and failed to pay over the majority of the employment taxes owed to the IRS, totaling nearly $3.6 million. During the investigation, agents discovered that the defendant had not embezzled the tax monies that he willfully neglected to pay, and the IRS was able to recover the funds.
Bowker also committed bank fraud as the company’s chief financial officer. In his position, Bowker was entrusted with a company’s Visa credit card and was responsible for paying the monthly credit card bill by authorizing the electronic transfer of funds from the company’s checking account at Mabrey Bank, in Bixby, to the company’s Visa account. From January 2014 through December 2015, Bowker fraudulently used the Visa credit card to make $130,000 worth of purchases for his own benefit. Bowker purchased items at drug stores, department stores, online retailers, furniture stores, gas stations, and liquor stores. He paid for the Visa charges with funds from the company’s checking account at Mabrey Bank.
Bowker did this by calling the credit card processor and authorizing a one-time electronic transfer from Mabrey Bank to pay the credit card bill. By authorizing the payment via telephone, Bowker was able to avoid the company’s two-signature requirement on company checks.
IRS/Criminal Investigation and the FBI conducted the investigation. The Department of Justice Office of International Affairs coordinated the defendant’s extradition. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard M. Cella and recently retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles M. McLoughlin prosecuted the case.