Federal Embezzlement Defense Lawyer – 18 U.S.C. § 641
This type of white collar crime involves those individuals stealing money by some sort of means from their employer. Usually, the federal government will not get involved with some small case involving a mom-and-pop store where someone is stealing money. Usually, the state will deal with that in any state government across the country. Our federal criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
Embezzlement is stealing some form of money or property. Usually, an embezzler is someone in a position of trust who is taking money, property, or goods from the business they are employed.
18 U.S.C. 641 says, "Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof; or
Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted—"
Generally, the federal government will not get involved in an embezzlement charge unless it involves a large amount of money. Embezzlement cases at the federal level concern thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you've got an embezzlement charge at the federal level, one option that could help you is to pay back the money. We often negotiate deals in federal court where the money is paid back before the person enters a plea agreement. For the federal prosecutors, getting that money back for the victim is huge. Most of the time, they are willing to give people a chance and not send them to prison for an extended period.
If you have a federal embezzlement case, you must speak with a criminal defense attorney to get your strategy together right from the beginning. Where the feds get involved in these embezzlement cases at the criminal level is when:
- significant dollars are being taken,
- there's a sophisticated scheme using a computer, and
- big companies are being stolen from.
Sometimes it's just a matter of the people being stolen from, how they find out, and who they contact once they find out. The federal government will be involved if they get the FBI and the case is big enough for them to take.
If, on the other hand, they contact the police and get to the right detectives on the case, then there's a major fraud unit — especially here in Los Angeles and probably across the country — that will deal with an embezzlement case. The difference between embezzlement and just regular theft is the embezzler sits in a position of trust in a particular job, company, or business and uses that trust and that special knowledge or specific position that they sit in to take money.
Embezzlement by Employees
I've seen some of these big companies that have millions of dollars. They have employees right in the middle of their bank accounts and have authority, especially if they team up. You have a manager and an employee working together. They're right in the middle of being able to move large dollar amounts to their bank accounts.
Why somebody would do that doesn't make any sense because eventually, the government will find out about it because the employer, if they do some audit or have some kind of a back-check, will realize that dollars are missing.
What I see happening is even though people will get away with it for months and even years, they become greedy. They go too far, and then the company starts to miss the money, and they get an investigation going. They have an audit done.
They bring somebody who specializes in figuring out why companies are losing money and employees who embezzle cash, what they do, what type of schemes they use, and how to figure it out.
When Does Embezzlement Become A Federal Crime?
If you commit embezzlement as an employee, charges will be filed against you in the particular courthouse with jurisdiction over the area where the money was taken. To make it a federal charge, you are usually going to need the following:
- some sophistication,
- you were doing it on a large scale,
- a lot of money has been taken, and
- different bank accounts are being used.
The federal government will only use its resources when the state government can't handle a case because it requires specialized experts or large amounts of manpower.
The federal government has the FBI and other investigative bodies that can dig into tough cases. However, investigating requires skill, time, patience, and effort when they are complex. Often, local police departments do not have the manpower to get involved.
Sometimes, the local police have to investigate these cases for years, whereas federal agencies can dive in and resolve them in months. You will only see the federal government become involved when you have a case with sophistication, complexity, and large-scale loss.
What Are the Penalties?
So, suppose you've got an embezzlement case at the federal level. In that case, you're facing significant penalties because the government is very harsh regarding individuals taking money from their employers, such as the following:
- you're going to be ordered to pay back in restitution, and
- you're also likely to be ordered to serve some federal custody,
Your sentence will depend on the amount of the loss, your criminal record, how sophisticated the scheme was, how vulnerable the employer was at the time the embezzlement occurred, who your judge is at the time of your sentencing, and how the prosecutors proceed with the case.
Depending on the amount of money or assets embezzled, you may face a significant amount of time in jail and have excessive fines imposed on you. For example, in felony embezzlement at the federal level, you will typically look at a significant amount of time in federal custody based on the sentencing guidelines.
It will calculate a base offense level and then add any enhancements. So, for example, according to the guidelines, you may face somewhere between 30 and 37 months. However, the reality is that the federal judge will ultimately decide what the sentence is, and they are not limited to the federal sentencing guidelines.
Best Strategies for Defending Federal Embezzlement Cases
It's rare, in my estimation, that the feds go after people for embezzlement because, usually, someone is stealing from an employer in a specific jurisdiction.
Where you see the feds getting involved is if the feds investigate it. So, suppose somebody calls the FBI because someone is embezzling millions of dollars from their company or is using interstate commerce to take funds, and the FBI investigates it. In that case, it is likely the feds will prosecute that case.
But they don't usually get involved in minor cases with little money on the line. So they'll typically let the local authorities deal with those cases.
So, suppose you find yourself in a predicament where the federal government is either investigating you for embezzlement or is prosecuting you for it. In that case, you've gotten yourself in a difficult situation because they don't usually do that unless it's a difficult situation, which means the following:
- much money is involved,
- the person is sophisticated, or
- it's a ring of people that are involved in doing it.
Federal Sentencing for Embezzlement
It also means you've gotten yourself in a position where when it comes time for sentencing, the biggest factors the judge is going to look at are the following:
- how sophisticated you were,
- what you did to your company or whomever the person or entity is that you embezzled the money from;
- what type of damage did you to that entity?
- how much money did you take?
- what the amount of restitution is.
The more money you take, the more time you'll get. It's as simple as that because special enhancements add additional levels in federal sentencing when it comes to embezzlement, and the amount of money that was taken, or even the intended loss, sometimes can be used against you.
If you've got a bunch of credit cards and you were going to use them and the limit on them was $10,000.00 each, they will try to use that to make your sentence higher. It's as simple as that.
Unfortunately, not all lawyers commit federal crimes. I've been doing federal crimes now for over 30 years. I've defended people for embezzlement at both the state and federal levels. Sometimes you didn't commit the crime, and then you're going to fight it in a jury trial and need somebody with that experience.
But conversely, if they can prove the case against you, they have evidence that you were moving money into your account. I see this many times, and if you had no justification for doing that, then you're going to want to hire somebody that can mitigate the situation.
Defending Embezzlement Charges
If you've got felony embezzlement charges at the federal level, you need to retain a seasoned lawyer who can assist you with your case. Trying to represent yourself is never a good idea, especially in federal court, which is much more sophisticated than state court. You should get your own federal criminal defense lawyer if you can afford it.
Some people own their businesses, get money from the federal government, and then do illegal things about receiving those funds. At that point, you are stealing money from the federal government and could be prosecuted for a theft-related offense. To be charged with federal embezzlement, they will have to prove that they are taking money from someone else.
If you are acquiring money illegally, you can bet your bottom dollar the FBI, the Secret Service, or some other federal branch will get involved, and they will prosecute you to the full extent of the law. Prosecutors will search back as far as they possibly can, in collaboration with whoever the victim is, to figure out what the loss was and what type of charges they can bring.
Our defense attorneys have handled embezzlement cases and have seen great results. The Hedding Law Firm understands that sometimes good people are put in bad situations, and we are here to help you escape those bad situations. If you are being charged with embezzlement on a federal or state level, contact our embezzlement defense attorneys and set up a free face-to-face consultation.
You need a defense lawyer to determine how to put you in the best position possible regarding federal sentencing. The judge is looking at you to decide precisely what your sentence should be; pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.