You may hear several terms when a person commits a crime that involves stealing money or property in Las Vegas. Theft and grand larceny are some of the most common terms. Yet the one crime that can be a bit confusing is embezzlement.
Embezzlement normally involves employees, financial advisers or other corporate settings. For this crime, a person is in charge of money and property for someone else or for an organization, but in some way takes the asset for themselves to reap in the financial gain. In some instances, the charges of embezzlement can be so great that a person can spend a lifetime in jail.
What Is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement is a specific type of fraud or larceny involving mishandling someone else’s assets. This charge is sometimes referred to as “employee theft.” It starts when one person is given fiduciary responsibility of a type of asset, which can be money, property, investment vehicles or other items that have a type of financial value.
This fiduciary responsibility will be given to them on behalf of someone else. There will be a financial relationship established where the person will manage, monitor or make financial decisions for the other person’s benefit. Embezzlement comes into play when the person given fiduciary responsibility misappropriates the asset for their own benefit.
There is no set amount for the crime to be considered embezzlement. A person may take a few hundred dollars to several million. Also, embezzlement can be a criminal fraud charge or a civil fraud charge. One example of a criminal fraud case would be securities fraud in the form of a Ponzi scheme, where federal authorities discover that a business engaged in fraudulent investment activities. A civil fraud case may involve an employer suing an employee for taking the money that was entrusted to the employee to pay the company’s invoices and instead depositing it into their own bank account.
What Qualifies as Embezzlement?
There are typically four things that must have occurred for a person to be charged with embezzlement. If any of these four factors are not meet, then a charge of embezzlement cannot be levied against a person.
Fiduciary Relationship: The person who committed embezzlement must have been given responsibility toward managing and using money or other assets on behalf of the other party or organization who relied on the person and trusted them.
Asset Acquirement Through Financial Relationship: It must be shown that the person acquired the money or property from the other party or organization strictly through the fiduciary relationship.
Taken Over or Transfer of Asset Ownership: The person accused of embezzlement must take over the ownership of the money or property. They may have also transferred the asset ownership to someone else in what is called a conveyance.
Fraudulent Intent: It must be shown that the person’s actions where intentional. If the person truly believed that the other party or organization wanted them to have the asset, or they mistakenly transferred ownership to another party, these instances would not be considered embezzlement.
Penalties for Embezzlement
Every state has different penalties for embezzlement based on the actions of the defendant, the value of the asset, and who originally owned the asset. So a person may find that they receive a harsher penalty due to taking several million dollars or if the asset was publicly owned. The person will normally have to make restitution by returning the asset or paying back the money as well as paying fines. They may also face jail time or probation.
Embezzlement in Nevada
An example of embezzlement occurred in Reno, Nevada back in May of 2016 with an employee who took nearly $1 million from her employer for personal use. She was in charge of customers’ check funds and transfers, but instead cashed the checks and used part of the money to pay off a gambling debt. She also deliberately altered financial records by omitting pages to hide the crime.
The employee was convicted of embezzlement, failing to report her income to the IRS, and paying her taxes. She was sentenced to pay restitution to her employer. The employee also was sentenced to two years in jail and three years of probation.
What You Should Do If You Are Accused of Embezzlement
Since embezzlement can be considered a criminal case with serious penalties, it is always advisable to speak with a criminal defense attorney. All four factors of embezzlement must be satisfied for there to be charges held against you. So there must be proven ownership as well as intent on the defendant’s part.
If you were charged with embezzlement, you will need legal representation to protect your rights. An attorney can evaluate the circumstances and try to prove that embezzlement was not reached due to one or several factors not being meet.
Contact Gabe Grasso. Every case is different in Las Vegas, Nevada and requires dedication and attention to detail to ensure your rights will not be compromised. Give us a call today and let us go over the factors of your case during your free consultation.