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Woman Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison & Ordered to Pay $170k Following Mountain Bike Company Embezzlement

Nov 22, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  

A woman has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after embezzling $150,000 from a high-end Seattle mountain bike company.

Joan Trower, 51, was sentenced on November 19 after pleading guilty in August 2021. Trower worked for the company from July 2015 until May 2018 when the embezzlement was discovered and her contract terminated.

An FBI investigation found that Trower used a variety of schemes to steal from company accounts including creating checks using the company software system, claiming expenses and compensation she did not earn, and making transfers from company accounts to accounts she controlled.

One example that was highlighted by the Department of Justice was that while most employees received at most three checks per month (two for salary and one for expenses), Trower wrote as many as thirteen checks to herself in one month, falsely claiming the funds were to reimburse her for an outside tax accounting firm she claimed to have hired. At one point, Trower transferred more than $26,000 to her account in the span of just a few months in 2018. Trower and her boyfriend used the money to, among other things, gamble at area casinos.


Alongside the wire fraud, Trower was also charged for aggravated identity theft after she forged the signature of company executives on fraudulent checks and submitted false invoices.

Assistant United States Attorney William Dreher described Trower’s scheme as “elaborate, sophisticated, and longstanding". He said, "She created fake business entities and fake bank accounts for those entities in order to conceal the nature of her transfers of funds from the company. Ms. Trower even went so far as to create at least one alter ego email account: a fake email account that she would correspond with, apparently in an attempt to justify certain expenses or accounting maneuvers."

At the sentencing hearing, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said that it is part of the Court’s “job to protect the community, especially small businesses such as the victim in this case.”

Trower is obligated to pay $168,597 in restitution to the mountain bike company. The bike company is not named in the case but Transition and Kona have both previously confirmed Trower was not employed by them.

Posted In:
Industry News



134 Comments

  • 366 3
 Sounds like she is a bad person. Evil, some might say
  • 80 3
 She got wreckless though and got caught.
  • 6 13
flag joehandlebar (Nov 22, 2021 at 5:52) (Below Threshold)
 Correct.
  • 121 0
 Sounds like she wasn't happy with the salary they were Offering and decided to take more. Glad she was caught
  • 92 0
 Prison is Calling
  • 256 3
 The Insurgent wasn't Following a good moral code, Offering greed only to herself, now there will be a Wreckoning.
  • 118 0
 Sounds like the Department’s Extra Legitimate Trial Attorney won out.
  • 9 2
 @dirtmcleod: winner
  • 14 1
 You might say this sentence is a wreckoning
  • 11 0
 I’m Following this case closely now.
  • 21 1
 So this is why PB never reviews Evil's....
  • 3 0
 She had to accept the Judge and will now roll foreword with a set of Verdicts.
  • 5 0
 This is heavy news, whether you weigh it in metric or Imperial.
  • 2 0
 Her attorney didn't find any loopholes.
  • 2 0
 The Empire struck back
  • 36 0
 She won't be able to Weagle out of that one!
  • 1 0
 I hope that she learns her lesson and isn’t a Repeater offender.
  • 6 0
 Did she work alone, or with some Faction?
  • 3 0
 @dirtmcleod: 3 puns best value
  • 1 0
 Sounds like her day of Wreckoning has come.
  • 1 0
 A Low point in her life, no doubt. Or was that Extra Low.
  • 2 0
 At this point why not just name Evil as the (alleged) victim. I can’t see the harm.
  • 1 0
 Heh, comedy gold I tell ya!
  • 3 0
 Karen takes and takes.
  • 1 3
 I guess you could say she was a real stumpjumper.
  • 118 8
 With that skill set she’s perfectly qualified to work for the government or on Wall Street.
  • 37 1
 Yup small fish does it they get jailed and fines. Politician does it, they get elected as President.
  • 2 3
 @stumphumper92: Whats the recommendation. Small scale scum like this should not be punished. Or we remove integrity tests and judiciary for all? Such a bland, blatant smear of the system. Proves that gender is no evidence for not being a thieving scum was my take.
  • 3 4
 Yup, the dumnie should have been in public sector where it's impossible to get fired.
  • 9 1
 @jrocksdh: Fraud in publicly funded contracting is pretty actively policed and harshly punished in the US. Which is part of why it makes headlines when it occurs - leading to the impression it's common. It isn't.
  • 4 10
flag jrocksdh (Nov 22, 2021 at 20:52) (Below Threshold)
 @g-42: lol, read the build back better plan when u can. Loads of fraud in there...as usual.
  • 57 1
 Looks like a sentence...
  • 34 1
 Great, now that she's not skimming bikes will get less expensive, right?
  • 27 1
 Come on Pinkbike we all know mountain bikers are upstanding dirt bags (except for the dentists) so why are you reporting on white collar crimes. I want more paid advertisements disguised as articles and social media rounds ups.


/s
  • 20 0
 What's with all the reposts from bicycleretailer?
(edit: nevermind. just outside things.)
  • 21 3
 Yep, pretty transparent the 'slide' from legit Pinkbike articles to the garbage that this site will eventually be. I am sure Vital (and other legit rider type sites) are noticing an uptick in traffic and members
  • 9 1
 @bman33: agreed. Lots of garbage on here. The slide has been obvious for a while now.
  • 9 0
 @bman33: yep its slowly happening. Seems to be more about quantity that quality on here now, with the 10+ articles a day.
  • 15 0
 When Outside reports on Inside jobs.
  • 11 0
 "Embezzlement". Had to look up what it means. What a great word to add to my English vocabulary.
  • 2 0
 Maybe you can add some Dutch words for the English speakers. Personal I think you should start with swaffelen.
  • 7 0
 Does US court copy not name the firm involved or is that Pinkbike's decision?
I realise people have revealed it in the comments, but I'm curious as a former UK court reporter.
  • 4 0
 Depends on the case, the court, etc. In this case it looks like Pinkbike is not the one concealing 'Evil' bikes or what ever company is the correct one in this case. Perhaps they requested to keep their name undisclosed to avoid certain publicity. Below is a link from US Justice Department's website on this case....

www.justice.gov/usao-wdwa/pr/seattle-woman-sentenced-prison-embezzling-high-end-mountain-bike-company
  • 13 4
 This case has a real Following for its Offering. Glad to see this Insurgent has met her Wreckoning.
  • 8 0
 the company found out and waited until the theft got to the magic number to make it a federal case. otherwise the FBI wouldn't have gotten involved. Good play on the company
  • 1 0
 Please can you explain to a Muggle?
  • 3 0
 @richard01: in the US there's state level and federal level crimes once a crime hits a certain dollar amount it gets kicked from the state to the feds where all of the penalties and fines are much higher.
  • 1 0
 @shaowin: Thanks
  • 8 0
 So much fake business, Tim Dillon would be proud
  • 6 0
 Even if you're small, never have just one person doing the books.
  • 1 0
 One person does the books, another person makes the payments at a bare minimum.
  • 1 0
 @Vlad-Putin: And need to get outside auditing.
  • 1 0
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: I dunno how big Ev*l was then but outside auditing is, I think 10-20 grand. Doesn’t make sense for every business though seems like they might have benefited
  • 4 0
 she thought her big casino wins would be able to cover her theft! works every time - NOT
  • 3 0
 With the inflation of bikes since 2018, her retribution equates to about the value of one bike sold...
  • 4 0
 Comment section DID NOT dissapoint
  • 2 0
 If you have a Court.gov Pacer account and read the defendant's sentencing memorandum on page 3, line 15 clearly lists the company.
  • 1 0
 Sorry forgot to put in that the court record above identifies the brand as Evil.
  • 3 0
 because
  • 1 0
 obviously it was easy...three years and nobody got it.
  • 2 0
 Glad she was caught. Prison time can't ever be much fun. Try finding a job afterwards.
  • 3 1
 Now she has been found out the company can get back to embezzling money from us using new standards and trek sessions
  • 1 0
 New standards? Trek sessions? Ok I’ll bite. I assume you mean super boost but no idea the trek sessions reference..?
  • 3 0
 EVIL.....
  • 2 0
 probably Kent / Diamondback
  • 8 0
 "high end"
  • 1 0
 I guess they weren't happy with what they were offering her for salary, so she took a following in the embezzlement path eh?
  • 1 0
 Small business, so not Raleigh or DB, has to be Evil?
  • 1 1
 Evil is located in Bellingham, which is 100 miles north of Seattle. So, maybe not Evil?
  • 13 0
 They relocated to Bellingham from Seattle like two years ago and the theft was up to 2018, so it aligns.
  • 1 0
 @HB208: Okie dokie! Thanks for the knowledge.
  • 2 0
 It is Evil. If you have a Court.gov Pacer account and read the defendant's sentencing memorandum on page 3, line 15 identifies Evil as the company.
  • 1 0
 Guys, he is likely trolling you, which worked.
  • 1 0
 I think she was just trying to figure out a way to be an S-Works e-bike
  • 1 0
 Its almost she set up her own paywall within a well known brand...
  • 1 0
 I'd just want a company bike
  • 1 1
 Wow you can say she had an Evil mind. The day has come for her Wreckoning!!!
  • 1 0
 Well. It looks like a (court) session.
  • 1 0
 Definitely won't find a craps table in the Joint!
  • 1 0
 Sustainable………
  • 1 0
 Naughty naughty
  • 1 3
 Just one person to carry out all these things? maybe scapegoat?
  • 3 0
 Just ordinary small company finance dept things. Ask me how I know. Frown

See also, this is why SOX practices exist, and makes my life so damn difficult.
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