A man has been sentenced to 90 months in federal prison after eight years as a fugitive in Utah. The man was charged in connection with the theft of over $2.2 million from his employer when he worked as a bookkeeper. The defendant was responsible for paying invoices to vendors, but fabricated duplicate invoices for work already paid and diverted the money into his own account. In 2012, he was caught and charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion, but he fled the police while on house arrest. He was caught eight years later and will now serve eight years in federal prison.
The Crime of Embezzlement
What is embezzlement specifically? Well, you can steal money from anyone, but when you embezzle, you steal from someone with whom you have a duty of service, it is considered embezzlement. Companies and governments can be the victim of embezzlement. Employees and actors who operate on behalf of governments can be the perpetrators of embezzlement. Nonetheless, there is no “crime of embezzlement” under federal law. Instead, you have wire fraud.
Wire fraud is a broad category of crime that includes embezzlement but is not reducible to embezzlement. Wire fraud only dictates how the money is stolen. If the money is stolen using electronic means, that’s wire fraud. There must be an element of deception or subterfuge involved in the theft as well. For example, filing a false insurance claim is a form of fraud related to deception. Identity theft is a form of wire fraud related to impersonation. Stealing the fraction of a penny left over from transactions is a form of wire fraud.
Under the law, the prosecutors do not care who you stole from; they care how the theft occurred. In some fraud cases, the government does care who your victim is. Those who operate schemes to defraud the elderly or target public entitlements or disaster relief programs may find themselves facing enhanced charges. But for purposes of prosecution, stealing from your employer is no worse than stealing from an insurer, bank, or other institution.
Fraud prosecutions are often limited in scope to the amount of money stolen. Once you are into the millions of dollars, you are going to be in the five-year range, at the very least, with a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. In this case, the defendant was also charged with money laundering. Once you steal the money, you have to make it appear as though it was acquired lawfully. That too is a crime with a potential 20-year sentence. However, sentencing guidelines tend to be considerably lower than maximum sentences, even in a case where the defendant eludes prosecution for nearly a decade.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of those charged with federal crimes in Chicago. Call today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.