Monrovia - This was nothing like in 2010 when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s stepson, Fombah helped the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency by going undercover and wearing eavesdropping equipment for an investigation that would later lead to narcotics-trafficking-related charges against nine men who U.S. prosecutors allege were attempting to use bribes to build a new West African smuggling route to Europe.
The case of Tobias Bowen, the head of Redemption Hospital, one of Liberia’s poorly-run medical facilities came with no help at all from the government of Liberia. According to the Syracuse Post Standard, Bowen had been under U.S. surveillance for four years and watched in frustration as Bowen, accused of raping a girl in the Syracuse town of Clay in 2010 -- ran Redemption.
The Post Standard report that U.S. Marshalls’ pursuit of Bowen was bolstered by determination. Joseph Ciciarelli of the U.S. Marshals Service lamented the frustration at not getting any help from the authorities in Liberia.
FrontPageAfrica, quoting sources at the Liberia National Police, reported last week that the LNP had Bowen’s arrest warrant from the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office in their possession for four years but did nothing. “There was no political will, no instructions from the top,” a source told FrontPageAfrica last week.
The Post Standard reported last week that US Marshalls caught a break when they tracked Bowen’s flight to Great Britain, where English authorities were willing to take him into custody. Bowen was caught after a tip and investigation by the U.S. Marshals Service revealed he was going to visit family in Britain.
Authorities provided the following account:
Bowen, 47, formerly of 4783 Norstar Blvd., fled to his native country after being arrested on March 19, 2010 and released on $10,000 bail, said First Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio. He was charged with having repeated sexual contact with a child, as well as statutory rape and criminal sex act. But he never showed up for court after being indicted.
Over the years, Bowen's whereabouts became obvious. He was the chief administrator of the Redemption Hospital, one of Liberia's largest, according to Onondaga County Sheriff's Detective John Seeber. He was quoted in the media and never tried to hide his identity. Under law, the DA's office had no way to send authorities into a foreign country to get Bowen, Trunfio said. So the sheriff's office and Marshals Service kept investigating.
Then, a few months ago, a tipster alerted authorities that Bowen was frequently traveling to Europe. Marshals began investigating Bowen's travel records, looking for a pattern, Ciciarelli said.
|Despite Getting no help from Liberia Authorities, U.S. Marshals Service pressed on until their determination paid off when they tracked the Redemption Hospital Administrator’s flight to Great Britain, where English authorities were willing to take him into custody.|
"We pulled his travel records (and) were tracking his comings and goings," the agent said. That led to their big break: Bowen was planning to visit family in Great Britain, Ciciarelli said.
Unlike the other countries Bowen had visited, Britain had a close relationship with U.S. authorities. Police there acted quickly at the Marshals' request to take Bowen into custody, Ciciarelli said. Bowen was caught after he landed Saturday in Britain.
Ciciarelli said the investigation was expedited due to the sexual nature of the crime and the fact Bowen had finally traveled to a country that would act quickly. Otherwise, it could have taken much longer to catch him in one of his other travels, Ciciarelli said, according to the Post Standard. Bowen remains in England as U.S. authorities start extradition proceedings to bring him back to Onondaga County.
FrontPageAfrica can now confirm that two of the minors Bowen is accused of raping are his daughters from two different partners: His current wife, and a former lover, with whom he has a child.
Liberian government authorities, particularly the Ministry of Health have been mute since Bowen’s arrest. Bernice Dahn, Chief Medical Officer of the country told FrontPageAfrica last week that she had not heard about Bowen’s arrest and promised to look into it and get back, but she has not. A senior Ministry of Health official did confirm to FrontPageAfrica last week that authorities did look into the allegations when FPA first reported about that Onondaga County authorities were in pursuit of Bowen in 2010. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that at the time, Bowen’s wife flew from London to Monrovia to say that she made the charges up and that the charges against Bowen were bogus. Why Bowen fled Syracuse after posting bail, is still puzzling many followers of the case.
Now it is being reported that Onondaga County District Attorney's Office prosecutors sought a bail of $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond in 2010, nine times more than what Bowen posted before he escaped. Bowen was given bail of $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond, but Bowen's Liberian passport was never confiscated, the prosecutor said. Some reports had speculated that Bowen’s passport had been seized and that he had used a Laissez Passez to travel out of Syracuse.
“They knew Tobias Bowen was a flight risk - he was a Liberian national -- and was charged with a serious crime: repeated sexual abuse of a minor, said First Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio, to the Post Standard.
Prosecutors in Syracuse say they explicitly ordered the surrender of Bowen's passport, but today, neither the judge nor the prosecutor knew how Bowen was able to still leave the country -- presumably with his Liberian passport. According to the Post Standard, the judge explained that when Bowen was brought before him, he was a 43-year-old man with no prior criminal record. Bowen had been in the Syracuse area for two years.
“As is typical in town court arraignments, the DA's office suggested a bail amount but was not present to make a bail argument. The judge considered $10,000 bail to be a fair amount. And the judge stressed that he wanted Bowen's passports seized, so he couldn't leave the country. (Trunfio said that Bowen also had a passport for a country in Europe.)”
Bowen lived for a while in Holland prior to moving to the U.S. Judge Anthony Aloi issued a warrant for Bowen's arrest, leading to a four-year manhunt that ended with Bowen's capture in Great Britain last week.