- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A former FBI agent pleaded guilty this week to stealing more than $136,000 in cash that was seized in the course of drug investigations and admitted to using the money to buy two cars and to pay for his wife’s plastic surgery.

Scott M. Bowman of Moreno Valley, California stole the money over a two-month period in 2014 while he was assigned to an anti-gang task force, according to his plea agreement.

His actions led to the dismissal of charges against at least 14 criminal defendants, according to The Associated Press. The 45-year-old was fired from the agency in 2015 and now faces up to 70 years in prison as a result of his guilty plea to four criminal counts, including conversion of property by a federal employee, obstruction of justice, falsification of records and witness tampering.

Bowman admitted to taking money seized during three separate law enforcement searches, the bulk of it from a San Bernardino, California home that was believed to be connected to the methamphetamine trade. After an August 19, 2014 raid at the home turned up a safe with a large amount of cash, the money was placed in evidence bags and taken to an FBI storage facility. Bowman’s plea agreement states that the next morning he picked up the cash and removed a “substantial portion,” repackaging a remaining $366,000 in the evidence bags before dropping them off at a company that was contracted to count money for law enforcement agencies.

Bowman’s plea agreement states he also swiped close to $11,000 that was seized from a hotel room on June 14, 2014 and another $4,600 that was seized during a June 25, 2014 traffic stop.

In the weeks after the August cash seizure, prosecutors said receipts from car dealerships show that Bowman spent $43,850 to buy a 2012 Dodge Challenger and $27,500 for a 2013 Toyota Scion. Both purchases were paid for in cash.

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He also spent more than $26,000 to trick out the cars with new sound systems and rims, and an additional $15,000 to pay for his wife’s plastic surgery.

The cash thefts came to light after supervisors began to inquire about the whereabouts of the cash. Bowman initially lied, telling officials that the stolen money had been commingled together by the company that counts cash for the agency. He later reached out to a San Bernardino detective, whose name he had forged on evidence bags, to get the detective to cover for him by stating he had accompanied Bowman to the cash-counting facility. The detective, who is unnamed in court documents, declined after telling Bowman he had been in court on the days in question.

Officials did not indicate whether the detective was punished.

“As Mr. Bowman takes responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty, the public should be reminded that FBI personnel are held to the highest standards and misconduct of any kind is taken very seriously,” said James Struyk, acting assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Bowman’s attorney indicated that corruption within the gang unit was not limited to his client.

Mr. Bowman accepted full responsibility for his role in the charged offenses,” James W. Spertus said. “We remain hopeful that the Department of Justice will accept cooperation from Mr. Bowman to investigate and root out corruption in San Bernardino, rather than continuing to ignore the

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