North St. Paul insurance company employee sentenced in $1.2 million embezzlement case

courtesy of Facebook, John William Rowan

More than $1.2 million was stolen from the owners of Garry Insurancenter in North St. Paul.


A former Garry Insurancenter employee was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for stealing more than $1.2 million from the North St. Paul based insurance company over the span of two decades.

John William Rowan, 65, of Mahtomedi, pleaded guilty on Jan. 19 to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced May 5.

Joe Garry, co-owner of Garry Insurancenter, said in a February interview that he was the first to discover Rowan’s startling betrayal.

“He was on vacation. I was looking for some records and happened to find the file that indicated he may have stolen some funds, and when he returned from that vacation, I confronted him about it and he admitted it at that time,” Garry said. 

Rowan was fired immediately.

While Rowan was employed with Garry Insurancenter, he was responsible for handling the company’s financial affairs including payroll, issuing company checks and serving as a signatory on the company’s bank accounts.

According to his guilty plea and documents filed in court, Rowan exploited his access to the company’s financial accounts and stole more than $1.2 million from October 1995 through July 2015

The criminal complaint states that starting in 1995, Rowan began falsely reporting his payment of insurance premiums for policies he held with Garry Insurancenter by making false entries in the company’s records for payments he never made.

In 1997, Rowan reportedly began issuing himself company checks for inflated quarterly bonus payments that he knew he was not entitled to, and in 2004, that progressed to also writing himself company checks for partner distributions.

Also starting in 2004, Rowan reportedly started writing himself company checks for cash that had no legitimate business purpose. Using his inside knowledge of how the company managed its financial transactions, Rowan issued a total of 150 unauthorized checks to himself from the company’s bank accounts and concealed the thefts from the owners of the business.

“Over the course of nearly two decades, this defendant systematically abused the trust of his employer to steal more than $1.2 million,” said acting U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Brooker in a statement. “This case exemplifies the seriousness of embezzlement and the damage it causes to small business owners. Criminals who engage in this type of conduct will be brought to justice.”

Garry reassured the insurance agency’s customers that their premiums were all deposited correctly and that they “were not impacted at all.”

“What [Rowan] did had absolutely no impact on anybody’s rates, on our company relationships or on the funds that anybody had in their accounts in the agency,” Garry said, adding only he and co-owner Dave Szczepanski were financially impacted.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau and the North St. Paul Police Department.


Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or


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