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Former St. Pete Salvation Army employee charged in embezzlement-related scheme

Prosecutors say the payroll employee doctored records in order to collect paychecks for people no longer working in the organization.

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A former Salvation Army employee has been indicted for crimes that stem from the embezzlement of $239,000 when he worked in the payroll department for the nonprofit’s Suncoast Adult Rehabilitation Center in St. Petersburg.

Kenneth Fowler, whose age was not disclosed, was indicted March 29 for not filing taxes on the income generated from the embezzlement.

Fowler is facing up to nine years in prison, three years for each count of making and filing false federal tax returns.

According to the indictment and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Middle District of Florida, here is what happened:

Between December 2013 and August 2018, Fowler in his position as a payroll coordinator at the adult rehabilitation center “engaged in a scheme” to embezzle funds. He did this by altering the records of former employees to make it appear they were still on the payroll.

Fowler would then collect their paychecks, forge their signatures and deposit the checks into his private account. He also misdirected direct deposits from some of the former employees into his own accounts.

The Justice Department says he pocketed about $239,000 from the scheme.

The indictment charges Fowler for not disclosing the money as income on his 2016, 2017 and 2018 tax returns. “By doing so, he avoided the payment of substantial taxes due and owing to the United States,” says the Justice Department.

A spokesperson for the Salvation Army says the organization "has fully cooperated with law enforcement.

"As this is an ongoing investigation, further comment on the matter is not possible at this time."

A search of Pinellas County court records did not appear to show that Fowler was charged locally for embezzlement.

This article has been updated with a comment from Salvation Army.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.


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