In the simplest of terms, embezzlement is when a person steals or misappropriates money and/or property from either an employer, business partner or another person who trusted the embezzler with the asset. This is very different from larceny (theft) as the embezzler has permission to handle the money or property in some aspect but clearly does not have permission to take it. Embezzlement happens when the embezzler uses their position of power and takes the money or property for themselves.
Common Forms of Embezzlement
- charging more than the listed price and taking the difference for personal use
- taking money from the cash register – even if it’s “borrowing”
- depositing vendor checks to the business in a personal account
- taking office supplies for personal use
- tampering with employee time records or creating a fake employee
- moving money from a client’s account to a personal account
- taking settlement money from a client and using it for business expenses
- adjusting the books to hide any movement of funds
Embezzlement: A Federal, State and Civil Crime
If you’ve been accused of embezzlement there can serious consequences as it can be tried in Federal Court, State Court and there can be a civil claim brought against you. Most cases will be under state jurisdiction but an embezzler can face federal jurisdiction if he embezzled from the government (i.e. taking a person’s social security checks). Penalties include but are not limited jail time, fines, and victim restitution.
The persons who are wronged in the embezzlement also have the opportunity to file a civil trial. A judge can garnish wages, levy a bank account, or put a lien on a property on top of whatever is owed from the victim restitution awards in the state trial to ensure that the victim gets their money back.
Do not go through the process alone, contact a white collar crime criminal defense attorney!