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How Embezzlement Is Different Than Theft Charges

Embezzlement is unique compared with other property theft crimes because it involves theft by someone entrusted with managing or monitoring the property. In other words, the person accused of embezzlement had legal control over the property but lacked lawful ownership of said property. This differs from someone who merely steals someone’s property because, in that scenario, the person is not in a position of trust.

Embezzlement rises to a federal crime when it involves property (worth $1,000 or more) owned by the United States government or through a contract between someone and the government.

I am Peter Katz, and as a former prosecutor, I understand the reasons behind certain charges and the effective defenses to them. Call my firm, the Law Offices of Peter Katz, at 609-900-2648 for a free and confidential consultation.

The Four Elements Of Embezzlement

Typically, federal prosecutors charge embezzlement in the context of mail, wire, securities or bank fraud. In doing so, the prosecutors have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the four elements of embezzlement, which are found in Title 18 U.S.C. Section 666(a)(1)(a):

  1. There was a trust or fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the private organization or state or local government agency.
  2. The property came into the possession or care of the defendant by virtue of their employment.
  3. The defendant’s dealings with the property constituted a fraudulent conversion or appropriation of it to their own use.
  4. The defendant acted with the intent to deprive the owner of the use of this property.

Understanding the scope of the charges you face is critical in preparing an effective defense. Conspiracy charges are often included in embezzlement cases.

What Is A ‘Position Of Trust?’

Someone is in a “position of trust” by either the nature of their position or their circumstances. For example, a bank teller or service clerk is in a position of trust because they have control over their customers’ money. The same goes for a family member caring for a sick loved one by monitoring their finances or a lawyer overseeing a client’s trust account. Depending on the details of the case, mail or wire fraud charges can also be a part of the criminal charge.

Common Embezzlement Charges And Their Statutes

Title 18 U.S.C. Chapter 31 provides various federal embezzlement offenses. Here are a few:

  • Embezzlement of public money, property or records (Title 18 U.S.C. Section 641)
  • Embezzlement by officers, employees or agents of the federal government (Title 18 U.S.C. Section 643)
  • Embezzlement of tools and materials for the purpose of counterfeiting (Title 18 U.S.C. Section 645)
  • Embezzlement by bankers who knowingly receive unauthorized deposits of public funds (Title 18 U.S.C. Section 644)

Penalties For Embezzlement

Typically, the sentences for federal embezzlement offenses are largely the same. Upon conviction of embezzling more than $1,000, one can face a fine of up to $250,000 or double the amount embezzled (whichever is greater), a prison sentence up to 10 years or both. For those convicted of embezzling less than $1,000, the penalties are significantly less: a fine of up to $100,000, a year in jail or both.

Why Attain Proven Legal Counsel?

The mere thought of someone going to prison, paying steep financial penalties and then having a criminal record for the rest of their life is enough to give one pause. Hence, it is essential that you have legal counsel to guide you through every step of the way. Having an attorney can put you at ease because you will know that someone is working for you and striving to keep your reputation and life intact. I have guided a great number of clients to favorable outcomes in white collar criminal cases.

Let’s Discuss What Your Next Steps Will Be

As an experienced former state and federal prosecutor who has prosecuted many white collar cases during my nearly three-decade career, I have a profound insight into these cases. I am ready to bring my extensive experience to your case and work tirelessly on your behalf to protect you and your rights. Call me at the Law Offices of Peter Katz at 609-900-2648 or contact me online to begin preparing your defense today. I serve clients in New York and in New Jersey in state and federal courts.