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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Founder Of Not-For-Profit Organization Convicted Of Stealing United Nations Grant Funds Sentenced

CONTACT:  Barbara Burns
PHONE:      (716) 843-5817
FAX #:         (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Deborah Bowers, 63, of Clarence, NY, who was convicted following a jury trial of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and making false statements, was sentenced to time served by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marie P. Grisanti and MaryEllen Kresse, who prosecuted the case, stated that Bowers, and co-defendant Steve S. Jabar, founded a not-for-profit organization OKI, Opportunities for Kids International, Inc. In June 2004, Jabar and Bowers, through OKI, applied for and received a $500,000 grant from United Nations to create, maintain, and operate a radio station in Iraq. The mission of the radio station was to further women’s rights issues in Iraq.

Within 24 hours of receiving a portion of the grant money, the defendants began to divert some of the funding for their own personal use. Jabar and Bowers diverted more than $65,000 for their own personal use. Jabar used some of the funding to pay off personal debts, including the payment of property taxes owed on his residence and business, as well as mortgage, utility, credit card payments and personal loan payments. Bowers also utilized some of the funding to pay personal credit card debt and make mortgage payments.

During the investigation, the defendants made false statement to investigator with the Internal Revenue Service in order to conceal with criminal behavior.    

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, under the direction of James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert.

Updated June 6, 2018