Bowman will stay in Legislature despite indictment
Jefferson City, MO – A state lawmaker indicted for bank and credit card fraud said Thursday that he will remain in the Legislature while fighting the charges in court.
Democratic Rep. John Bowman, of north St. Louis County, and 16 others are accused of fraudulently applying for business credit cards at Bank of America, then using those cards to rack up more than $1.2 million in charges.
"I will be exonerated, and I'll have my day in court," Bowman said in a brief interview in his Capitol office, where he returned for the first time since the federal grand jury indictment was unsealed Monday.
Bowman, 50, declined to discuss details of the case, citing advice from his attorney, but said he would continue to serve his constituents in House District 70.
"I'm just going to continue to do the work that people sent me to do at this time," he said. "I'm just going to take it one day at a time."
Bowman serves on the powerful House Budget Committee and the Special Committee on Rural Community Development. He has also been the chairman of the legislative Black Caucus since last spring.
After meeting with fellow Black Caucus members Thursday, Bowman said that although no one has asked him to step down from any leadership positions or committee assignments, he is considering reducing his legislative duties. "All members on both sides of the aisle have been very supportive," he said.
House Speaker Rod Jetton, who has the power to reject committee assignments and name House members to special committees, said he sympathizes with Bowman and has no plans to remove him from any committees.
"As far as we're concerned, until he's found guilty, he's an innocent guy, and we're happy to work with him," Jetton (R-Marble Hill) said.
Bowman was first elected to the House in 2000, lost a state Senate race in 2002 and was returned to the House in the 2004 and 2006 elections. According to his official biography, Bowman works for Daimler-Chrysler and has been a member of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America for 28 years.
The indictment, requested by U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway in St. Louis, alleges that former Bank of America Vice President Robert Conner recruited Bowman and several others to apply for small-business credit cards and then received $2,500 to $5,000 kickback payments.
According to the indictment, Bowman met with Conner in January 2006 in a Chesterfield branch office and submitted a fraudulent application for Bowman Consulting. A document filed with the secretary of state's office shows Bowman registered Bowman's Consulting on April 7.
Bank of America security systems detected the allegedly fraudulent activities early last year, and bank officials then contacted federal and local law enforcement, said Alex Liftman, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank.
An attorney for Conner maintains that his client is innocent.
Bowman, who is scheduled to make a court appearance Monday in St. Louis, is accused of using the fraudulently obtained credit card for a $4,050 cash advance and to buy more than $1,000 worth of items.
If convicted, Bowman faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the bank fraud charge and up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine for the credit card fraud charge.
House Minority Leader Jeff Harris said the charges are serious, but it does not appear to him that they involve any of Bowman's official duties. "I think one thing to bear in mind is that the alleged conduct took place outside Jefferson City and not in conjunction with his legislative duties," Harris (D-Columbia) said.
Harris said that since the indictment he has spoken with Bowman only to greet him when he returned to the House floor Thursday.