So you or a loved one has been charged with embezzlement. You don’t know anything about embezzlement and don’t know where to turn. You might have been accused, or know you’ll be accused soon. What do you do? First, you should know what embezzlement is and the steps you should take.
What is Embezzlement?
Unfortunately, embezzlement is hard to define. There tends to be a gray area between cases of fraud and theft. What we do know is that embezzlement is theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer.
When we think of theft, we think of someone going into a store and taking valuables without paying or permission. Embezzlement is similar, but the offender has legal access to the valuables and is trying to achieve the same goal. In general, we associate embezzlement with the theft of funds, but embezzlement can be the stealing of any item from someone who has legal access or power. It can even pertain to someone who sells the company vehicle or computer without permission.
What’s the Punishment for Embezzlement in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, embezzlement is a theft crime and involves the taking of property or money that the offender has been entrusted to keep safe. More often than not, it’s an employment situation. For example, a banker who has physical access to money, but cannot take it without permission. Surprisingly, it’s a frequent crime. In fact, according to the National White Collar Crime Center, "In 2013, it is estimated that global losses due to employee theft totals to about $3.7 trillion. Many corporate security experts estimate that as many as 25-40 percent of all employees steal from their employers."
In order for embezzlement to be true, there are certain situations that need to occur:
In Wisconsin, an attorney will often question the truth of these statements. If you’re under embezzlement charges for other reasons, it’s best to stay quiet and talk to your attorney.
The financial penalties for embezzlement can also include some hefty fines in addition to restitution and legal fees. A class A misdemeanor can cost you fines of up to $10,000.00. A class I and H felony can cost you fines of up to $10,000.00 as well. . Lastly, a class G Felony can cost you fines of up to $25,000.00.
Is Embezzlement a Felony or Misdemeanor?
The short answer is: it depends.
In Wisconsin, a felony relating to embezzlement depends on the value of the stolen property and the nature of the business. As stated above, if the embezzlement is less than $2,500, the charge is only a Class A misdemeanor. Although the fines can really rack up, it is significantly better than having a felony record. As the value goes past $2,500, the accused embezzlement charges will continue to increase. A class I felony can mean prison for 3 years and 6 months. The worst case scenario of $10,000 and above, Class G felony, can send you to prison for 10 years.
Cases of Embezzlement in Wisconsin
There are many examples of embezzlement charges in Wisconsin. In Madison, a former accounting clerk for St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing $800,000 from the congregation. Her responsibilities included depositing church collections and maintaining the church’s accounting records. The accountant allegedly used this money to gamble at casinos.
In Milwaukee, a former bank executive was convicted of embezzlement charges between 2003 and 2014. As the president and CEO of Farmers Exchange Bank, he gave himself bonuses without the board of directors’ approval. He used the money to purchase a Corvette, motorhome, SUV’s and car racing equipment . He was also accused of taking out money in the names of other people. He is charged for 25 counts of embezzlement.
Embezzlement can be difficult to understand. There are many gray areas when trying to figure out if the crime is a felony or just a misdemeanor. The punishment for embezzlement can be pretty severe and needs to be taken seriously. If you have any questions or need a great law attorney, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Southworth & Stamman, LLC.