CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former Cross Lanes computer executive Martin R. Bowling admitted Tuesday that he took part in a scheme to divert federal grant money that he ultimately received as an employee bonus.
Bowling, 30, faces a minimum of two years in federal prison or a maximum four-year term. He's scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3.
Bowling, who pleaded guilty Tuesday, is cooperating with federal and state authorities investigating the misuse of a $100,000 technology-training grant awarded by the state Workforce West Virginia office last year to Comar Inc., an Internet marketing and publishing firm in Cross Lanes.
"Mr. Bowling has accepted responsibility for his actions," said Mark French, a lawyer with Criswell & French law firm who represents Bowling. "He wants to pay his debt to society and is cooperating with all law enforcement officials to achieve that goal."
Bowling, former chief technical officer at Comar, told a judge Tuesday that he and others falsified documents to pay his girlfriend at the time, Mandi Felty, $5,000 as a "personal adviser" on the grant.
But Felty performed no work, and Bowling received the $5,000 as a bonus for helping Comar secure the $100,000 grant, Bowling said Tuesday. Bowling and Felty have since married.
"I was paid a $5,000 bonus through which I helped create documents so that it could be paid through the grant," Bowling told U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver, who asked Bowling to explain his crime.
At the time, Bowling's mother, Mary Jane Bowling, distributed the $100,000 grant while working as a state Workforce West Virginia administrator. Mary Jane Bowling has since resigned amid the scandal.
Martin Bowling's godmother, Christine Gardner, also received $5,000 from the grant for consulting work.
Gardner and Felty purported to provide a "needs assessment" study after Comar was awarded the grant, according to Bowling's plea agreement. The Gazette has previously reported that Gardner helped write Comar's grant application.
Comar publishes MetroValley magazine.
The FBI and state Legislature's Commission on Special Investigations continue to look into the grant misappropriation. A federal grand jury is hearing testimony in the case. The grand jury next meets Sept. 14.
Also Tuesday, Bowling admitted he stole people's credit card numbers in 2006 and used them to purchase artwork and other merchandise on the Internet. Bowling was working for Parkersburg-based Woodcraft Magazine at the time.
"I knowingly used the credit cards without authorization to make those purchases," Bowling told Copenhaver.
The charge holds a mandatory two-year prison sentence. Federal prosecutors had to get a special waiver to prosecute Bowling on a charge he previously was convicted of in Kanawha County Circuit Court.