Embezzlement in Sierra Vista Leaves Small Businesses with a Hefty Bill to Pay

By Kyler Van Vliet

Embezzlement is defined by Merrian-Webster Dictionary as “to appropriate (something, such as property entrusted to one’s care) fraudulently to one’s own use.”

The most notable embezzlement cases that people think of are the Ponzi-schemes that were carried out by Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford who would take money from new investors to pay out old investor’s “returns”, subsequently embezzling money before paying off their previous investors. 

Both are currently serving a combined sentence of 260 years behind bars after stealing a grand total of 58 billion dollars.

However, a study conducted by specialist insurer Hiscox in 2017 on embezzlement in America showed that small and mid-sized companies (fewer than 500 employees) are disproportionately victimized, making up 68 percent of cases in America. They also found that nearly 25 percent of employee thefts involve large-scale losses of more than $1 million and 29 percent are carried out over five or more years. Also, they found that 56 percent of company funds theft are carried out by women. 

Most recently on January 12, Patricia Bowman a Sierra Vista business woman was arrested for allegedly embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Bowman, 46, owned Daystar Payroll and was responsible for doing payroll and payroll taxes for multiple businesses in the Sierra Vista area. The SVPD said the scam happened from 2012 to 2019.

Affected companies have accrued around $1.2 million in fines and penalties from the U.S. Treasury Department, according to a news release from the city.

According to public records, half of the embezzled money was misappropriated from Sonora River Electric LLC which is involved in large-scale electric energy projects. Owners, Victor and Judith Lopez, claim nearly $537,000 provided to Daystar Payroll for tax payments is unaccounted for. 

In December, Canyon State Wireless which claims $146,000 of its money was never submitted by Daystar to the IRS and Arizona Department of Revenue dating back to 2016, filed a lawsuit seeking a civil judgment against Bowman and her company of at least $146,020 plus attorney’s fees.

After an 11-month investigation by SVPD, Bowman was booked into the Cochise County jail on 41 felonies, including fraud, money laundering, theft and forgery.  

Her bond is set at $200,000. 

Bowman is reportedly cooperating with the investigation, but anyone with information about the case should call Det. John Papatrefon with the SVPD at 520-452-7500.