Skip to main content
Press Release

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

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

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

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Steve S. Jabar, of Tonawanda, 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 Jabar, and co-defendant Deborah Bowers, 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.    

Deborah Bowers is awaiting sentencing.

“Following a five-week trial, a jury returned a verdict convicting defendant Jabar of conspiring to commit wire fraud, engaging in wire fraud, and making materially false statements,” said U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Notwithstanding that verdict, the trial judge found that the government’s evidence regarding harm to be lacking such that defendant’s wire fraud convictions could not be sustained. Notably, however, the Court found no infirmity in the defendant’s conviction for making a materially false statement to Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That statement came when the defendant falsely told agents that the entire $350,000 grant from the United Nations was sent to Iraq for the radio station, with the exception of expenses totaling no more than $10,000. In truth and in fact, however, the defendant used tens of thousands of dollars of the UNIFEM grant money to pay his personal loans and expenses.  Such monies were not sent to Iraq for purposes of the radio station. Despite the defendant’s criticism of the government, his anger is misplaced. The only person he has to be mad at is himself. The job of the prosecutors in my Office and the job of our law enforcement partners is impartially to enforce the law. That is precisely what happened here—nothing more and nothing less. I commend Assistant United States Attorneys Marie Grisanti and Mary Ellen Kresse and the fine men and women of the IRS and the FBI for their efforts in this case. The defendant could have avoided this entire ordeal simply by being completely honest, forthright, and transparent in all of his dealings with the government. His refusal to do that is precisely what landed him before a federal judge for sentencing today.”

Today’s 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 Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin P. Lyons.

Updated April 19, 2018