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What is Embezzlement?

Embezzlement is often referred to as a White-Collar Crime. That is because it is typically a non-violent crime. In Washington, under state law, there is no crime called Embezzlement, rather the charge would be "Theft.” Embezzlement is only charged under the federal laws in the State of Washington and therefore, would be brought through the United States District Courts.    

Most cases of embezzlement involve money, but it also can include property. A person who stands accused of this crime would have had some relationship to the rightful owner of the stolen money or property, and that owner entrusted the accused with the care of the money or property.

It is easy to get caught up in the sensationalism of the nightly news reporting on some employee stealing millions of dollars from their employer.  However, in theory, the crime of embezzlement can apply to items with very little value.  In fact, something as simple as a person taking home their employers office supplies to use for their personal use at home, could be construed as embezzlement.  Most often, the charge of embezzlement arises from an employee taking money or property in larger sums and often in an accumulation over a period of time.  Often the first acts arising to embezzlement starts when an employee has financial stresses and needs large amounts of cash to get out of their situation. Often feeling like the employer won't notice and doesn't need the few dollars taken from the cash drawer at work, the employee begins taking a few dollars at a time. Overtime, however, the employee may fall into the habit of stealing money from that cash drawer.  Combine that with financial stress, before you know it, thousands of dollars are taken over time. It is not unusual to see this pattern where the employee has an addiction like gambling.  A gambling addiction can happen to anyone and can lead to all types of losses, including family, homes, employment, and integrity.

Federal Crime of Embezzlement

If you are accused of embezzlement or arrested for this white-collar crime, you need immediate legal representation by an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer who is licensed to practice in the Federal Courts and familiar with the United States District Courts. Cynthia Macklin is an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney.  She is licensed under the United States Courts to practice in the State and Federal Courts and she understands the details of federal laws that can apply to your case.

To be convicted of embezzlement, the United States must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you have:

Been given possession of the property at a time when you had a position of trust; removed the property from the possession of the rightful owner; and, you removed said property, with the intent to deprive the owner of that property.

If you Have Been Charged with Embezzlement

First, do not talk to anyone and do not give any statements or explanations to anyone until you consult with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney. An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney can help you to understand what the exact charges you are facing are. In Washington, crimes that violate state laws are brought on the state level and the act of embezzlement, at the state level, will be charged as a “Theft.” [hyperlink to theft page]If the charge you are facing is “Embezzlement” it will be brought under federal laws and filed through the United States District Court.

If you are accused and of embezzlement from a company or government agency, you will likely be terminated from your job immediately. Things can go bad, real fast.  That is why you need an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to move quickly and take the very important first steps to try to mitigate any more damage. Call Cynthia Macklin today for a free initial consultation so that you can understand your rights. 253-566-0808.

Embezzlement can be Charged Under Many Different Scenarios

There is an unlimited number of ways that a person could actually commit the crime of embezzlement. Remember,embezzlement is not only stealing money; it can also apply to tangible items like office equipment, products and supplies. The following is just a sample of scenarios where embezzlement can occur many times, all at the same place of employment by several different employees:

Example 1.

Employee, Joe, works at the Post Exchange (PX) on Joint Base Lewis McCord Military Base.. He is in charge of inventory control and works in the loading and unloading department.  Every day at the same time, there is a shift change leaving Joe there alone for a 15-minute window. Joe is left alone with a stack of new products he needs to list into the inventory database.  Joe knows that if any of the products are not entered into the database, there is no way to track those particular products, so when no one is around, he stashes a few small items in his backpack before the items are entered into the database.  At his afternoon break, he takes his backpack and puts it in the trunk of his car.

Example 2.     

Melissa, is a cashier at small coffee shop at the PX.  When a customer comes through her line and pays cash for their purchase, Melissa has made a habit of simply not ringing up one or two of the items when no one notices then places the cash she collected for those items into her pocket.

Example 3.     

Shawn, an account executive with the PX, has a company credit card to use to pay for company related expenses.  Lately, however, Shawn has been, what he considered, borrowing the line of credit to pay for his personal expenses, with the full intention of paying it back.  However, before he knows it, after paying his car payment and house payment several times with the credit card, he has used several thousands of dollars of the line of credit for his own personal use.

Example 4.

Peter works for the PX and is responsible for organizing and company events.  When he books an event through a particular vendor, the vendor gives the company a $500 cash card as a kickback.  Peter does not give the cash card to the company and instead uses it to pay off his personal utility bills.

Example 5.

Joe and Melissa both are paid on an hourly basis and punch a time clock when they arrive for work and when they leave each day.  However, Joe found out that if he has Melissa punch his time card 2 hours after he leaves each day, he gets paid 2 additional hours of overtime.  Melissa does this for Joe a few times a week and in return, Joe does the same for Melissa.

These are just a few examples of embezzlement.  Remember, the embezzler must be in a position of authority in the company, and responsible for the property that they are attempting to steal.

If you are facing an Embezzlement charge, you need an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney.  Call Cynthia Macklin now for a free initial consultation. 253-566-0808