May 27, 2022

Osceola Travel Plaza (BP) manager charged with first-degree theft

Osceola Travel Plaza (PB) manager Charety Ann Bowers, 44, of 2491 108th Avenue Murray was arrested 5:34 p.m. Feb. 17 on the charges of first-degree theft (more than $10,000) and ongoing criminal conduct- enterprise.

According to an Osceola Police report, on Feb. 11 an Osceola Police officer was contacted by Kenny Hamm, Director of Store Operations for the Elliott Oil Company (BP) in reference to suspected embezzlement from the on-site ATM machine at the Osceola Travel Center (BP) at 105 Ariel Circle, Osceola. Hamm asked if he could come in and show evidence of the embezzlement.

Hamm was accompanied by Andrew Woodard, Chief Operator Officer for Elliott Oil Company BP (Oil Executives). They had brought with them a banker’s box of files, receipts, video, and other evidence, showing that some of the money supposed to be deposited into the onsite ATM machine was unaccounted for. The documentation supports $53,940 was missing from August 2021 through January 2022.

According to the oil executives, there were two employees tasked with replenishing the ATM funds individually and without a witness. An ATM settlement slip was to be filed with the company for each of these transactions, according to Hamm employees are trained and know to do this. Bowers trained the assistant manager to do this but informed Hamm that she didn’t know she had to do them. According to the company records, Bowers failed to file the ATM settlement slips on certain occasions. The assistant manager’s ATM settlement slips were filed showing no discrepancy in any of the transactions.

The video evidence provided by the oil executives supports this fact. On Jan. 14, 2021, BP video coverage shows that Bowers counted out $1,000 and placed a paperclip on the money. Bowers failed to put this money into the ATM and she placed it back into a bank bag. A video with the BP cashier later showed Bowers empty the same bank bag and the cash was not contained in the bag. The required deposit slip at American State Bank shows that Bowers did not include the $1,000 in this deposit.

“In my training and experience and in speaking with other law enforcement professionals, Individuals can utilize their cellular devices, including their cell phones, for on-line banking. Individuals are also known to and have saved banking information on their cellular devices. A reasonable person could infer that Bowers may have evidence of money transaction on her cellular device. A reasonable person could also infer that Bowers could have retained the missing money at her property and may have documentation in the form of receipts, bank deposits, or any number of records showing where the missing money may be,” said Osceola Police Officer Speakman.

On Feb. 17 Officer Speakman and DCI Agent Spencer conducted a non custodial interview with Bowers at the Osceola Police Department. Bowers explained her daily schedule and store operations as they pertained to her job as the Manager of the Osceola Travel Plaza. At first Bowers was not forth coming with any explanation of the money that had went missing from the ATM. As She was presented with more evidence, Bowers finally made the statement, “I think you know”. She was asked to explain further and admitted to stealing money, but said she started stealing money in December of 2021 but not August 2021 through November 2021.

Bowers was asked how much of the money she still had in her possession. She stated she had about $2,000 of the money left. At that point in time she was presented with a search warrant for her residence and vehicle. Bowers was then asked if she would voluntarily ride with Officer Speakman to her residence and help locate the money. She was then transported to her residence for the search warrant. They arrived at 2491 108th Ave. Murray and the money was located in a silver envelope in a top dresser drawer. The money located was $3,000. Bowers was placed under arrest and read Miranda. She was then transported to the Clarke County Jail and is being held on $35,000 cash bond only.

Tyra Audlehelm

Tyra Audlehelm

I grew up in Osceola and live here still with my husband and son. I graduated with my Bachelor degree in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2017. I have work at the OST since January of 2018.