Investigation Into Alleged Chix 4 A Cure Theft Continues

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Authorities searched the North Carolina office, car and home of a former Glouster woman accused of stealing from the Trimble Twp. nonprofit Chix 4 a Cure, a cancer organization.

Michelle Lowery-Rowan, who works at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, was arrested Wednesday at her office by university police with assistance from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, when Lowery-Rowan was taken into custody she had in her possession an envelope addressed to a Chix 4 a Cure board member. The envelope contained a flash drive with Chix 4 a Cure records on it, and contained a check for more than $4,000 made out to the board member. Blackburn said it’s believed the check was an attempt to give money back to the organization, adding that authorities had been aware of the check and it is the basis for one of the money laundering charges against her.

On Tuesday, an Athens County grand jury indicted Lowery-Rowan, the former treasurer of Chix 4 a Cure, on three counts of money laundering, two counts of grand theft, two counts of telecommunications fraud and one count each of tampering with records, forgery and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The indictments list dates for the alleged crimes, with the offense of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity alleged to have occurred between Oct. 1, 2011 and Dec. 18, 2017.

The indictment on that charge indicates how the alleged theft was uncovered.

When Chix for a Cure officials were transferring money from the Ohio University Credit Union to Chase Bank they discovered that a credit card was opened in August 2016, allegedly without authorization. When reviewing bank statements Dec. 5, they discovered that the majority of charges on the credit card were allegedly personal charges made by Lowery-Rowan. It also was discovered that Lowery-Rowan had allegedly made personal expenditures from the organization’s checking account at the OU Credit Union.

The corrupt activity charge also claims that Lowery created fraudulent JPMorgan Chase Bank statements to show board members the status of the account.

Blackburn has said one grand theft charge alleges that Lowery used the credit card for personal expenditure of more than $7,500. The other grand theft charge alleges that she stole more than $7,500 from the OU Credit Union account.

Blackburn said that Lowery-Rowan appeared Wednesday evening before a North Carolina magistrate, who set the defendant’s bond at $750,000 and scheduled a court appearance for Jan. 8 to consider the matter of extradition. Blackburn said his office will be checking to see if North Carolina law would allow Lowery-Rowan to waive extradition back to Ohio if she wants to do that.

As of Thursday afternoon, she was in the Chatham County jail in North Carolina.

Blackburn said the search of her office, car and home also yielded financial statements, two laptop computers, other flash drives and an iPad.

According to the indictment, Chix 4 a Cure members told investigators that Lowery-Rowan became treasurer of the board in 2009 and held the position until she resigned last month due to taking the North Carolina job.

Chix 4 a Cure was formed in 2009 to raise cancer awareness in Trimble Twp. The organization has held fundraisers, including an annual 5K walk/run, with proceeds benefiting local families dealing with cancer and to support cancer research. The organization has also provided an annual $500 scholarship to a Trimble High School graduate, according to the Chix 4 a Cure website.