HAMMOND — It took a jury less than 45 minutes to return a guilty verdict Wednesday in the federal trial of Monique Bowling.
Bowling, 46, of Merrillville, was charged with theft of property — specifically computer equipment including 1,398 Apple iPads — from the city of Gary while employed in Gary’s information technology department. She pleaded not guilty to those federal charges in November 2016.
The case went to federal court because Gary received more than $10,000 in federal money, including through grants and loans, from 2014 to 2015, said U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon.
After thanking and dismissing the jury, Simon set sentencing for 10 a.m. April 26. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Bell asked Simon to revoke Bowling’s bond and consider her as a flight risk.
Bell cited a report from a federal medical center in Texas where Bowling was taken last summer for an in-custody mental health examination that stated Bowling was likely faking her mental illnesses. Defense attorney Jeff Schlesinger had requested that evaluation in January 2018 after informing the court his client had gone mute, refusing to speak with him or anyone.
Dr. Amor Correa, a forensic psychologist for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, previously testified via video in U.S. District Court that a battery of psychological tests showed Bowling was “very likely” malingering her muteness. She said the test results were supported by staff observations.
Correa said Bowling communicated through writing with staff members and doctors at the Texas facility. Bowling also attempted to activate a phone account at the facility and convinced another patient she befriended to send detailed emails to Bowling's family members.
Correa said staff members came to the conclusion Bowling could communicate when it was in her self-interest, such as informing a doctor of her prescriptions, and her writing did not seem hindered at all.
That information could not be mentioned during the trial because of a pretrial motion.
During the trial, which began Monday, Bowling remained seated, almost motionless, and never reacted visibly to any evidence presented or witnesses testifying. She was escorted in and out of Simon’s courtroom by her husband, Derrick Bowling. Schlesinger said she never spoke with him at any time.
Determining whether Bowling should be taken into custody because she is a flight risk “is still a heavy burden,” Simon said. However, he ordered Bowling remanded into federal custody by U.S. marshals. Where she will be held until the April 26 sentencing is unknown.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, various witnesses, including Gary employees, testified that Bowling sold them iPads for $500 each, always in cash. After receiving the equipment, they registered the iPads with Apple, which provided investigators with the serial numbers.
Kim Blackmon, who worked in the city’s vehicle maintenance department, said Bowling frequently had packages of computer equipment shipped to her office at 900 Madison St. rather than City Hall. One time Blackmon said she delivered three packages to Bowling’s Merrillville home “because she said she had a project the next day with those packages.”
Michelle Janosky, an auditor with the Indiana State Board of Accounts, testified that the investigation of Bowling’s activities began with the Indiana State Police. Janosky said she was called in to do a special investigation audit and discovered the same invoices were used on multiple vendor claims to purchase computer equipment. Those claims totaled $1.37 million.