A Winlock woman was sentenced to four years in prison March 26 for the theft of thousands in cash and lottery tickets from a Toledo gas station, according to Lewis County Superior Court.
Katrina M. Bowen, 37, had been charged Jan. 22 with first-degree theft after stealing an estimated $178,000 in scratch-it tickets, as well as cash used to pay for beer purchases, from the Flying K gas station, in Toledo, where she had worked as a cashier until last September.
Bowen has admitted to stealing one $2,500 roll of $5 lottery tickets during each of her shifts over a period of around six months, and was caught only after her employers, Rick and Tonya Lovell, began reviewing finances last summer to discover why their business was losing such an extraordinary amount of money.
Bowen promptly pleaded guilty to the charge Jan. 29 and had been looking at around 90 days in jail, given her lack of previous felonies, but prosecutors added an aggravating factor to the charge due to the impact of Bowen’s crime on her employer’s business, allowing the judge to add significant time to her sentence.
On March 26, Judge Richard Brosey gave Bowen four years in prison for the theft (two years more than prosecutor’s had been recommending) in order to send “a message” that such devastating crimes will be met with ample punishment.
When given an opportunity to speak before sentencing, Bowen apologized to the Lovells and said it was never her intent to harm them, having stated before she was attempting to keep track of what she was stealing to pay them back in the future. She also said she is seeking help for her gambling addiction, which she has credited with her motive for the crime.
Rick Lovell told the court Bowen’s theft has almost bankrupted their businesses and Flying K’s future in Toledo is presently uncertain, as creditors such as the Internal Revenue Service have threatened to foreclose on their property.
It was noted the court has yet to determine how much restitution Bowen will be ordered to pay, and it has been said her ability to pay will be factored into the judge’s determination.
In response to the crime, the State Lottery Commission has said they will allow an automated lottery ticket machine to be installed at Flying K so tickets do not have to be managed directly by employees.