Press Release (Loudon, Tennessee – Friday, August 13, 2007) NOTE – This information is being released in response to press inquiries about this matter.
Felony Guilty Plea Results in Quarterback Club Recouping $17,000
A guilty plea in Loudon County Criminal Court to a theft charge by Loudon County resident April Bowen will result in an immediate payment of $17,000 in restitution to the Loudon Quarterback Club. Bowen, who served as the treasurer of the youth football organization for approximately three years, was presented to the Loudon County Grand Jury in December 2006 by the District Attorney General for indictment on a felony theft charge of approximately $25,000. District Attorney General Russell Johnson explained that at that time the Quarterback Club was “unsure of exactly how much money they believed Ms. Bowen had misappropriated for her personal use, so we submitted an indictment within the appropriate range.
“Ms. Bowen had the sole authority as treasurer to use the Club’s credit card. General Johnson explained that the allegations were that Bowen would purchase items for the Club, say from Wal-Mart, both legitimately for the Club’s use and for her personal use on the Club’s checking account. It would have been difficult for me and my staff to attempt to separate the items on several months of receipts to determine which items were used for the Club, such as soft drinks or sport drinks, and which items Bowen used personally. Instead we had the defendant’s attorney, T. Scott Jones, and the Club’s attorney, Brian Nichols, trade information and review their respective records to come up with a dollar amount that Nichols and the officers of the Quarterback Club felt they could attribute to Bowen’s personal use.”
A negotiated plea agreement was then struck with the defendant to pay immediate restitution of the agreed upon $17,000 in return for a felony guilty plea. Our office denied the defendant’s request for pre-trial diversion, but she was granted a judicial diversion by Criminal Court Judge E. Eugene Eblen after he listened to argument from the defendant’s attorney about Bowen’s remorse for her conduct and her lack of any criminal history. She will have to pay court costs associated with the charge and will undergo a two year sentence to be served on probation before the diversion can be effected.
“Our office worked with the Club from the beginning,” stated General Johnson, “and I understand the anger and frustration that their members felt having placed this person in a position of trust then having her abuse that trust, especially when we are talking about an organization whose sole purpose is to help kids.” Johnson added, “Brian Nichols and the Club’s officers were particularly helpful in getting us to this point. Our mutual goal from the outset was to get the admission of guilt and conviction on the felony charge with restitution. The immediate return of $17,000 is something that would never have happened if we were to have gone through a difficult trial arguing the hundreds of items in numerous purchases. Furthermore, if we had tried the case restitution payments in whatever amount we could have proven would have trickled in over a period of three or more years, if at all.”
Johnson offered this advice for similar clubs and small non-profit organizations, “This is one of several cases I have seen since being elected last summer involving youth sports clubs, scout or church supported organizations where one person is in charge of the purse strings without any or sufficient oversight. I encourage all such groups to have at least two or three people required in order to make or monitor purchases. Always have someone else review purchases and payments on a monthly basis or an even more frequent basis. Have an accountant or independent book-keeper review bank statements on a quarterly basis to question suspicious expenditures. Not only is this good policy for the organization, but honest treasurers should welcome it for their own protection.”