The crime of embezzlement is a theft offense that is most commonly committed by an entrusted company employee. For this reason, many of these offenders will commit the offense over a multi-year period without being detected. The most common way the theft is committed is through check fraud and financial service firms are the most commonly victimized. In 2016, it is estimated that financial service organizations lost roughly $120 million.
Criminal Investigations and Prosecution in Lehigh County
The District Attorney's Office in Lehigh County is now handling more than 5,500 criminal cases annually and boasts a 97% rate of conviction. They maintain a team of investigators and detectives that have the resources to prosecute more complex financial crimes. Their Computer Crimes Task Force is often employed as a key resource for cases involving embezzlement.
Crimes of embezzlement are theft offenses committed by an individual(s) trusted with the responsibility of handling the affairs of a person or organization. Pennsylvania statutes do not contain a separate offense specifically termed as embezzlement, rather they are charged as theft offenses.
Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition (§3921)
Theft involves unlawful actions that seek to deprive an owner of their property. Property is anything that has value, which may be tangible or intangible.
Misapplication of Entrusted Property (§4113)
This offense involves unlawfully obtaining possession or disposing of property. It is often committed by an employee of a government agency or a financial institution. The offense is generally motivated by a personal financial gain that does not reflect the best interest of the organization. Theft offenses are graded based on various circumstances. The primary variable that determines the level of an offense is the property value associated with the crime.
Pennsylvania: Grading of Theft Offenses
The grade or level of an offense is associated with the value of the loss:
- Felony (First Degree): The amount is greater than $500,000. The maximum sentence is 20 years and a $25,000 fine.
- Felony (Second Degree): The value is between $100,000 and $500,000. The maximum sentence is 10 years and a $25,000 fine
- Felony (Third Degree): Amount is between $2,000 and $100,000. The maximum sentence is seven years and a $15,000 fine
- Misdemeanor (First Degree): The amount is between $200 and $2000. The maximum sentence is five years and a $10,000 fine.
- Misdemeanor (Second Degree): The amount is between $50 and $200. The maximum sentence is one year and a $2,500 fine.
Embezzlement is generally categorized as being a “white collar” type of criminal activity. These are acts that are fraudulent, utilize deception, and seek to obtain some financial benefit. The U.S. Justice Department reports that annually there more than 5,000 such offenses that are prosecuted.
Defense Lawyer for Allegations of Embezzlement
Serious theft offenses such as embezzlement may result in significant penalties. Those convicted of thefts that exceed several thousands of dollars can expect to face a prison sentence. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands that often overzealous prosecutors act hastily and may not afford a defendant their rights. Those seeking aggressive criminal defense in Lehigh County are encouraged to contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.