Proximity to funds can lead people to make bad decisions that are ultimately criminal in nature. Anyone can be tempted to commit embezzlement if they're in the right position of trust. Essentially, embezzlement is defined as the theft of money by someone entrusted to handle the money through their employment. In a recent example of embezzlement, Jackson Township's Secretary and Treasurer pled guilty to federal embezzlement charges.
Charged with embezzling at least $150 thousand, the accused has agreed to pay back the sum. Upon sentencing, she could also face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250 thousand.
Elements of Embezzlement
When you're accused of federal embezzlement, the prosecutors must be able to prove the elements of the crime they wish to charge you with. In a federal case, the investigating body, like the FBI, will gather as much evidence as possible and present the preliminary evidence to a Grand Jury. A Grand Jury may choose to indict the accused if the evidence is sufficient, and a trial may occur after that.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(A), federal prosecutors alleging embezzlement must prove:
- The accused owed a duty of trust to a government agency or a private organization
- The accused gained access to the embezzled property through their job
- The accused misappropriated the funds for their own use
- The accused intended to commit the act of taking the funds from the rightful owner
Similarly, under PA state law, 18 Pa. Const. Stat. § 3927, an employee who converts an employer's funds for personal use is likely guilty of embezzlement. Notably, stealing and embezzling are not the same offense. The difference between stealing and embezzlement is the way the accused gains access to the funds.
Misconceptions about Federal Crimes
Many mistakenly think they won't be accused of a federal crime because they're only taking a small amount of money. Compared to governmental budgets with line items in the millions, $150 thousand is relatively small potatoes, but that didn't stop the feds from bringing charges against Jackson Township's Secretary and Treasurer.
Defending a federal crime requires a serious defense strategy. While there are similarities between federal court and state court, there's considerably more red tape in a federal defense. Often, federal investigators and prosecutors are more sophisticated, and so your defense attorney must be able to match in competency.
When You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
Always work with an experienced criminal defense attorney when you're accused of a crime. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his dedicated team understand your concerns and needs when you're charged with a crime like embezzlement at the federal or state level. To learn how attorney Joseph D. Lento and his expert team can help you, call 888-535-3686 today or contact the Lento Law Firm online.