Former controller of local Ford dealership sentenced to 30 months


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Date: March 3, 2021


Evansville – Acting United States Attorney John Childress announced today that Robert L. Fowler, of Evansville, Indiana, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young for Bank Fraud and Money Laundering.

"Fraud by company insiders robs their victims of money and worse, it robs them of their trust in others," said Childress. "Greed and deception were the roots of Robert Fowlers life. He will now face the consequences of his choices."

Fowler served as the Controller at Town and Country Ford for approximately eight years until he was terminated in early September 2016. Prior to becoming Controller, Fowler also served as an assistant office worker for twelve years. As Controller of Town and Country Ford, Fowler was responsible for the payroll, taxes, and accounting for the dealership and essentially served as the business manager.

Town and Country Ford's parent company, Hays Automotive Group, owns car dealerships in Evansville, Louisville, and Nashville, Tennessee. In September 2016, the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Hays Automotive Group discovered discrepancies in the books and records for Town and Country Ford.

Further investigation revealed several embezzlement schemes conducted by Fowler, including opening unauthorized bank accounts from which he wrote dozens of checks to himself and personal associates; using company funds to pay his child support and other personal expenses at his home; using company credit cards to pay for personal expenses and paying for those transactions with company funds; paying his personal credit card with company funds; and forging signatures of corporate officers when applying for an unauthorized loan of $250,000.

This investigation was a collaborative effort between the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating individuals who line their pockets with other people's money," said Tamera Cantu, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation. "Mr. Fowler's sentencing serves as a reminder that individuals who engage in this type of financial fraud should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable."

"His employer put their trust in Mr. Fowler, and he repaid that trust by putting his personal greed ahead of his commitment to the company," said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. "The FBI and our partners will continue to aggressively pursue those who commit financial fraud to enrich themselves at the expense of others and ensure they are held accountable."

According to Assistant United States Attorney Kyle Sawa, who prosecuted this case for the government, Fowler must also pay $432,873 in restitution to Hays Automotive Group and will serve 2 years of supervised release following his imprisonment.

In November of 2020, Acting United States Attorney John E. Childress renewed a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District's response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office's enduring commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who engage in fraud and money laundering.