Is this technically embezzlement?
Topic: Caught up arrest paper work
July 18, 2019 / By Gypsy Question:
If you were a lawyer, how would you defend this? It's for a class I'm taking.
Manager of a small retail store comes up short a few dollars here and there (generally less than $20, sometimes more, sometimes less), so he force-balanced the closing paperwork instead of finding the errors. He was under the impression that it was cheaper to force-balance, rather than spend time hunting down the money, and assumed overages would eventually wash out the difference. Neither the company owner, nor the accountant (both of whom have to approve the sign-off sheets and assumably have seen the errors) has ever questioned this practice, and he has never had it called into question or been reprimanded for it. This continued for the 10+ years he worked for the company. Suddenly, and without warning, the police show up and he is arrested. He is informed he is being prosecuted for embezzlement, and is told that 10+ years worth of shortages is adding up to over $15,000....a felony. You are to assume no money was ever taken, and the manager has been a first-rate employee in every other way (never called in sick, never late, etc.)
Also, these questions need to be answered, if possible:
1. Do you feel the charge is warranted?
2. What is the accountants responsibility here?
3. Should the defendant fight the charge, or consider a plea, even though he is innocent?
Thanks in advance!!
I forgot to mention this is in the state of California, if that makes a difference.
Excellent answers so far...going to be hard to choose a best!!!
Best Answers: Is this technically embezzlement?
Dix | 5 days ago
Who called the police? They don't just "suddenly show up" if nobody cares about the alleged losses.
Anyhoo, there is a difference between making an accounting mistake and committing a crime. The prosecution would have to prove the manager had the intent to steal. This would be difficult without any evidence that the money was taken by the manager or anyone with whom he may have conspired.
The CPA's inattention cannot be used as a "waiver" of a criminal offense, if there were one. Just because nobody catches you for 10 years wouldn't make the crime less of a crime. However, because there is no proof of ANY crime, this would be a minor point.
As already mentioned, the statute of limitations for a financial crime is typically much less than ten years, and in some cases is only a year. The s/l starts from the date upon which the crime COULD have been discovered by anyone watching for it, whether or not it was actually discovered many years later. If the manager had "cooked the books" in secret, which was only discovered after 10 years, the s/L would start upon discovery.
Finally, because the shortages were apparently caused by others, there is reasonable doubt as to the identity of the actual criminals (if any), and it would be very unlikely that a jury would pin this alleged crime upon the manager. If anything, the CPA might have been criminally negligent for failure to carry out the hired duty of proper accounting practices.
Therefore, a plea bargain would be silly. The charge can certainly be fought in numerous ways and the charge does not appear to be warranted, under the circumstances as described.
👍 178 | 👎 5
Did you like the answer? Is this technically embezzlement?
Share with your friends
We found more questions related to the topic: Caught up arrest paper work
Originally Answered: Arrested for misdemeanor embezzlement, what to do?
This was not an error made by Fed-Ex. Your computer software auto-filled the account number. You are guilty. If you have a profile on your computer that is causing this error, delete it.
Get the public defender. They will know how to advise you on your plea. Get the money to make full restitution for all of the shipping charges that were made to your former employer's account. Once they have the money ... they might lose interest in the case!
As weak as your excuse is (stupid auto-fill feature!) it might just buy you some leniency in court!
The charge is unwarranted and frivolous due to the facts that the alleged "crime" took place over more than a 10-year period, the periodic amounts the defendant is charged with taking were so small as to be pointless and the accountants ultimately are responsible for ignoring the forced balances. The defendant SHOULD NOT consider a plea bargain. Any thinking judge would dismiss the charge.
👍 70 | 👎 -4
I'm not a lawyer, but I'd definitely agree with Cliff.
I'd also think that the failure of the company owner and accountant to correct his earlier actions would amount to implied consent (see link). In fact, it seems likely that the accountant in particular neglected his own fiduciary responsibilities.
Lastly, I'd check the statute of limitations for the state to see if he could even be charged for events within the entire 10+ year period.
👍 66 | 👎 -13
I am a lawyer, and I would tell him to take it to trial...
1. He isn't guilty because he didn't take the money
2. The accountant should have noticed
3. There is very little change that they are going to be able to prove embezzlement...so he should not take a plea.
👍 62 | 👎 -22
Originally Answered: Who do you report suspected non-profit embezzlement to?
First of all, a nonprofit is an organization, not a company.
And there is no "owner".
That's the entire point of being a nonprofit corporation.
Are you sure they really have tax-exempt status with the IRS?
The first step would be the Board of Directors, but they may all be his friends and family.
Notify them, but don't expect much if that's the case.
You can also notify your states' Department of State, Bureau of Charitable Organizations, or some such title.
You can also check their tax exempt status there.
Report them to the IRS.