Public Safety

Disbarred Iowa lawyer, once called 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,' charged with making counterfeit money

Former police officer has history of drug abuse, forgery

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former police officer and disbarred lawyer, who an Iowa Supreme Court justice called “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” after reviewing his history of drugs, forgery and misappropriating client funds, was charged last week in federal court for making counterfeit money.

Brian Loren Stowe, 43, of Waverly, was indicted in U.S. District Court Aug. 11 for manufacturing counterfeit currency and dealing in counterfeit currency. Stowe is accused of making counterfeit money and selling about $900 of counterfeit money twice to a confidential informant.

Stowe would take real dollar bills, bleach them to change the denomination with a home printer and computer, Secret Service Agent Joshua Highfill testified last week during a detention hearing. He usually tried to pass the bills at places such as convenience stores where they were less likely to recognize counterfeit money or test it.

U.S. Magistrate Jon Scoles released Stowe pending trial with GPS monitoring and stipulations that he must live with his parents in Waverly, submit to random drug testing, undergo a mental evaluation and/or treatment, seek employment and cannot go into casinos, where counterfeit money is sometimes passed. He also had to surrender his passport.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years on each count.

Stowe went from being a partner at a law firm to possessing cocaine while on a cruise ship vacation in Belize, when authorities found 1.3 grams of cocaine stowed in his pants pockets, according to an Iowa Supreme Court ruling at the time of his disbarment in May 2013. Stowe told the disciplinary board that he was abducted, beaten, sexually abused and ransomed. He pleaded to possession.

Justice David Wiggins stated in the ruling that Stowe’s life mirrors one of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” because at the beginning of his career, he studied at Drake Law School by day and worked as a police officer and drug enforcement agent in various counties. He graduated in 2000 with honors and joined Finley Law Firm in Des Moines, where he became a partner after only five years.

Wiggins added that Stowe even coached youth basketball and Little League and he wrote novels in his spare time. After his arrest, while on the Belize vacation, Wiggins wrote, “Stowe’s Hyde-like opposite emerged.” Stowe claimed he had post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and was experiencing violent nightmares stemming from the alleged abduction. but he never got counseling or treatment.

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Stowe told the board he started using methamphetamine as a way to prevent sleep to avoid the nightmares, according to the ruling. He eventually wasn’t able to work, his marriage dissolved, he quit the firm and he moved to northern Iowa. He worked for a brief time at another firm but then was fired in 2010.

Wiggins said a short time later, Stowe was convicted in Emmet County for possession of meth and received a deferred judgment with the stipulation of going into drug treatment for 18 months. He was then convicted in Palo Alto County for two counts of forgery. Stowe forged the signature of a client on two checks he had stolen.

Iowa Department of Corrections records show Stowe violated his probation on the forgery charges more than once, testing positive for methamphetamine and failing to attend probation meetings in 2015.

Stowe had been temporarily suspended from practicing in 2011 and 2012 by the court for ethical violations, mishandling client funds and neglect of clients, before he was disbarred in 2013, according to court records.

His trial is set Oct. 19.

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