Patricia Jane Bowman pleaded guilty last month in an embezzlement case that impacted nearly one dozen businesses in the Sierra Vista area to the tune of $1.2 million. But although Bowman knows she will be going to prison eventually, she has been granted nearly one year to buy down how much time she actually serves behind bars.
That was the agreement approved by Judge Laura Cardinal of the Cochise County Superior Court during an April 25 hearing which saw Bowman enter a guilty plea for the one count of attempted fraud, a Class 3 felony. The offense involved 11 companies which were clients of Bowman’s Daystar Payroll from 2012 to 2019.
Bowman also admitted owing nearly $980,000 in restitution to her clients, for which the maximum sentence under her plea deal is 8.75 years with the Arizona Department of Corrections.
However, if Bowman and her family fork over 60 percent of the restitution -about $590,000- by April 17, 2023 then she will only stay behind bars for about 20 months based on a minimum 2.5 year prison term along with credit for post-arrest jail time and ADC early release credits.
The other sentencing options that could be imposed at sentencing next April range from 3 to 6 years based on a sliding scale for how much prison time Bowman can knock off her sentence depending on the percent of restitution she makes by her sentencing date.
Until then, Bowman remains out of custody.
Court records show by the time Bowman is sentenced, it will have been more than seven years since the first Daystar Payroll client was contacted by the Internal Revenue Service about irregularities with the company’s wage reporting and withholdings. Others followed, some also running afoul with the Arizona Department of Revenue.
Bowman, who turns 49 this week, has also been sued by several of those clients, most of whom cooperated with a Sierra Vista police detective who determined Bowman provided some clients with fraudulent payment records in an effort to put the blame on the IRS. Due to the complexity of the investigation, Bowman was not indicted by a county grand jury until January 2021.
After her arrest, Bowman was held in the Cochise County jail in lieu of a $200,000 appearance bond. She was later released under the third-party custodianship of her husband.
Judge Cardinal dismissed the other nine counts contained in the indictment during Bowman’s change of plea hearing. Because there will be no conviction of a second count, Bowman will not be placed on probation when release. That means any victims still owed restitution at that time will have to obtain it civil action or a criminal restitution order.
Most of Bowman’s victims took part in a settlement conference as part of plea negotiations. None objected to getting as much money repaid as soon as possible even if it means Bowman ends up serving less than the presumptive sentence.
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