A criminal investigation which started in early 2020 resulted in the arrest Tuesday of the longtime owner of a Sierra Vista payroll services business who is now charged with 41 felonies related to a long-running money laundering, fraud, and forgery scheme.
Patricia Jane Bowman was booked into the Cochise County jail for misappropriating funds from 10 area companies that contracted her business, Daystar Payroll, LLC, to handle various payroll and tax payments. She is accused of causing her clients a combined loss exceeding $1 million dating back to 2014.
That amount does not include another $252,000 which Bowman already returned to one of her victims, Sierra Vista Police Det. John Papatrefon told Arizona Daily Independent.
Bowman will see a Justice of the Peace on Wednesday morning to find out whether she will be released from jail on her own recognizance pending trial or if she must post bail. Bowman has been cooperating with authorities for several months, Papatrefon said.
Papatrefon conducted the forensic investigation into all the fraud reports made against Bowman and her company, even though some victims were located outside the city. Thousands of transactions as well as hundreds of documents had to be reviewed, and then compared to IRS records as well as fake or forged records Bowman provided to her clients.
Despite the criminal investigation, at least three victims initiated civil lawsuits against Bowman and Daystar last year.
One such victim is Potvin Wolfe Enterprises, which owns Hoppin’ Grapes, a wine bar in Sierra Vista. The company sued Bowman and Daystar in November, alleging fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment.
According to the company’s lawsuit, Daystar was contracted in late 2013. But the first sign of trouble did not come until early 2020 when the IRS alleged the company had not paid its payroll taxes for 2014 to 2016.
The lawsuit alleges Bowman told the owners of Hoppin’ Grapes that “the IRS was frequently in error.” She also provided a report, purportedly from the IRS, listing confirmation numbers of payments Bowman claimed proved the company’s taxes had been paid.
The company then reached out to the IRS and the Sierra Vista Police Department, only to be informed by Papatrefon that the report was a fake. Bowman’s fraudulent schemes cost Hoppin’ Grapes more than $11,000, according to its lawsuit.
Canyon State Wireless and Sonora River Electric, two other Daystar clients, also sued Bowman. Those two companies suffered the biggest individual losses of the 10 victims, Papatrefon said.
Court records show Sonora River’s lawsuit alleges more than $500,000 in misappropriated funds dating back to 2017, while Canyon State sued in an effort to obtain at least $146,000 for unpaid taxes as far back as 2016.
Prosecution of Bowman’s case will be handled by Deputy County Attorney Michael Powell.