Maryland Federal Embezzlement Attorney
Embezzlement is considered a white collar crime. In Maryland, an individual can be charged with embezzlement under state law or federal law. Maryland embezzlement crimes that violate the federal code are prosecuted in US District Court, either in Baltimore or Greenbelt. In federal court, cases are prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys, not state prosecutors.
If a person is under investigation for or charged with any type of federal embezzlement or theft crime, they should immediately contact an experienced and seasoned Maryland federal embezzlement lawyer who can fight and help protect their rights.
Ignorance of the law is not a defense. A person’s defense must be based on the circumstances and facts surrounding the federal embezzlement charge. To explore all the valid defenses available, you need to contact an experienced and seasoned federal embezzlement lawyer in Maryland who understands the law and will mount a strong defense.
Difference to Theft
Theft is the taking and carrying away of property of another with intent to deprive and it can be from anyone. Embezzlement is a higher level of culpability and crime, because embezzlement is by someone who is in a position of trust and abuses that authority and trust they were given. It compromises the nature and fabric of employer-employee relationships of the ability to delegate tasks.
Embezzlement is the theft or misappropriation of funds or finances, taken by someone that is in a position of trust, most frequently, by that of an employee from an employer. There are a variety of different types of federal embezzlement crimes. Common Maryland federal embezzlement crimes involve misapplication or theft by a bank employee.
Embezzlement Misapplication or Theft by Bank Employees
US Code prohibits a director, employee, or officer of any bank or financial depository institution, or anyone connected in any capacity with the Federal Reserve Bank from abstracting, purposely misapplying, purloining, or embezzling money from these institutions. Anyone suspected of this behavior can be prosecuted for embezzlement under federal law. This additionally applies to employees or agents of the following entities (including, but not limited to):
- Depository institutions and/or holding companies
- Member banks
- Insured banks
- National banks
- Receivers of national banks
- Employees of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors
- Any organization operating under the Federal Reserve Act
Money covers anything that is entrusted to the care and custody of the bank, which statute applies to:
- Bank credits
Embezzlement or Theft from an Employee Benefit Plan
This consideration of embezzlement concerns assets of an employee pension benefit plan, employee welfare plan, or any type of funds connected to those benefits. Anyone who steals, embezzles, or illegally and purposefully takes or converts credits, money, securities, premiums, or property for personal use can face criminal prosecution. This statute also includes embezzling money for someone else’s use.
Embezzlement or Theft from Certain Employment and Training Funds
US Code makes it illegal for an employee, officer, director, agent or person connected to an organization or receiving federal funds under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 or the Job Training Partnership Act to embezzle from training or employment funds.
To prove a violation, the government must show the accused knowingly and purposefully committed one or more of the following acts:
- Misapplied money
- Enrolled ineligible participants
- Embezzled money or property
- Stole money or property, or
- Fraudulently obtained any property, money, or funds that were connected to the organization
Health Care Embezzlement
US Code makes it unlawful for a person to willfully and knowingly steal, embezzle, or take without the proper authority from a health care benefit program. Anyone accused of this behavior may be prosecuted for health care embezzlement under federal law. To convict someone, the government must prove that the accused embezzled by converting or intentionally misapplying, from the rightful owner, U.S. currency or other valuable property consisting of premiums, funds, property, securities, or credits.
Loss is a major part of sentencing in embezzlement cases. According to federal sentencing guidelines, anyone convicted of embezzlement of amounts exceeding $1,000 under 18 US Code Section 656, may face a prison term of up to 30 years and may be required to pay a fine of up to $1 million. If the accused is convicted of embezzling $1,000 or less the accused faces up to one year in prison or a fine, or both.
Anyone convicted of embezzling from an employee benefit plan may face up to five years in prison and/or a fine. Anyone convicted of embezzling money from an employment or training fund may face a sentence of up to two years in prison and/or a fine. Anyone convicted of embezzling money or property from a health care program may face up to 10 years in prison and/or may also have to pay a fine of $100.
Evidence Needed to Prove Embezzlement
There will almost always be a paper trail, unless it is cash that has been taken. Frequently, there will be video surveillance of someone putting cash in their pockets and walking out. More often than not, there are checks, with deposits so there is a paper trail. There are bank records, canceled checks, and ledgers. In these types of cases, the paper trail can lead back to the person who had the benefit for the money, which is the person who is charged with embezzlement.
There are several common defenses that may be available to anyone being prosecuted for embezzlement. The exact defense used in a given case will depend on the facts of that particular case and what the defense attorney believes is the best way to strategically approach the case. If someone is being investigated or has been charged with an embezzlement related offense, they should immediately consult with a Maryland federal embezzlement lawyer who can evaluate their options and protect their rights.
Lack of Intent
Intent is a vital element of any embezzlement charge. An attorney who uses this defense strategy will argue that the accused may have accidentally misappropriated or converted funds or property but lacked the specific intent to embezzle funds.
An entrapment defense is available when the accused can show they were not previously predisposed to commit the offense of embezzlement. Under this theory, the defense must also show the accused was unduly coerced by a law enforcement agent to commit embezzlement. The defense will argue that, but for the government’s overreach, the accused would not have committed embezzlement. This type of defense is typically asserted when the accused is arrested after an undercover sting operation where law enforcement posed as someone looking to engage in criminal activity and solicited the accused to agree to participate in the crime with the undercover officer.
To succeed on a duress defense, the accused must prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning more likely than not:
- The accused was under unlawful, present, and imminent danger which produced a well-grounded fear of death
- The accused did not recklessly place themselves in this imminently dangerous position
- The accused had no legal alternative but to violate the law, and,
- A reasonable person would believe committing the offense of embezzlement would avoid the threatened harm
Anyone arguing duress as a defense must show they had no reasonable alternative other than to commit the crime of embezzlement, with the help of an experienced Maryland federal embezzlement attorney.