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Bookkeeper indicted for wire fraud and other charges at a Seattle bike company

Published February 5, 2021
The bookkeeper, Joan C. Trower, is charged with schemes netting over $200k.

SEATTLE (BRAIN) — A bookkeeper could face up to 20 years in prison after she was indicted for embezzling at least $200,000 from a local bike manufacturer.

Federal prosecutors said Joan C. Trower, 50, used several schemes to steal from the company, using the proceeds to, among other things, gamble at local casinos.

Prosecutors did not release the name of the bike company, which is described in the indictment as "a private company that manufactures and sells high-end mountain bikes and related accessories." Under federal privacy rules, prosecutors don’t identify victims of crimes, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told BRAIN.

Trower was a contracted bookkeeper and accountant for the company from 2015 until 2018, when she was fired after the embezzlement was discovered, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors said among other schemes Trower printed unauthorized checks from the company's QuickBooks software and forged the Chief Operating Officer's signature on them. The checks were made out to herself, friends and family members. The indictment said the forged checks netted Trower at least $188,000 but said the true cost to the company was likely between $200,00 and $300,000.

In another charge in the indictment, Trower is said to have made transfers from the company's account to the account of a fictitious accounting firm that she controlled. The indictment said that in early 2018 she transferred at least $26,000 to the phoney company's account.

She was indicted Jan. 27 and a warrant was issued. She was arrested on Friday and made a court appearance via Zoom where she pleaded not guilty to all charges. She was released on bond with special conditions, including drug and alcohol testing, a restriction on travel outside the Western District of Washington, and a prohibition against gambling or visiting any gambling establishment.

The indictment is for nine counts of wire fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of destruction of evidence.

Wire fraud and destruction of records are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum two‑year prison term to run consecutive to any term imposed on other charges. A trial is scheduled for April 12.

Topics associated with this article: Lawsuits/legal

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