What Penalties Could I Face for Stealing From My Employer?

October 30th, 2017 by Tad Nelson in White Collar Crime

Many white collar crimes involve theft by deception or lying, as opposed to burglary or violence. Embezzlement, for example, occurs when property is entrusted to someone who later misappropriates it. This includes an employee who is accused of taking money that rightfully belongs to his or her employer.

Pasadena Woman Faces 20 Years for Embezzling From Oil Company

If you think that stealing from your workplace is not that big a deal, consider this recent white collar crimes case from Pasadena, Texas. The defendant worked as an administrative assistant at Chevron Phillips Chemical, one of the world’s largest employers and a major employer in the Houston area. As part of her duties, the defendant controlled a number of company credit cards issued to managers in her department.

According to a formal indictment obtained this past May by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, over a period of approximately seven years the defendant fraudulently used these credit cards for her own personal benefit. More precisely, the indictment said she used the credit cards to purchase pre-paid debit and gift cards. She also purchased (and then resold) copper wire. To conceal her scheme, the indictment said the defendant falsified receipts and forged “expense account statements and authorization signatures.”

Altogether, the U.S. Attorney said the defendant embezzled nearly $2 million from Chevron Phillips. Because she used credit cards to embezzle, her actions are classified as wire fraud, a federal crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1343, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. On October 17, the U.S. Attorney announced the defendant had agreed to plead guilty to the wire fraud charge, thereby waiving her right to trial. Her sentence will be determined by a federal judge in February 2018. The government may also seek forfeiture of the defendant’s assets in order to repay Chevron Phillips for the money it lost.

Have You Been Accused of Embezzlement?

As you can see, embezzlement can lead to serious federal criminal charges. Just about any theft involving the use of a credit card, debit card, or an Internet-based payment system falls within the definition of wire fraud. This means that even a single act of embezzlement involving a few hundred dollars could, in theory, land you in federal prison for 20 years.

At the state level, Texas prosecutes embezzlement the same as any other theft. The actual offense level depends on the value of the property allegedly stolen. For instance, if you embezzle $1,000 from your employer, you could face up to a year in jail if tried and convicted in state court. But again, you may also face separate federal charges if your embezzling act crosses state lines.

If you are accused of embezzlement by your employer or anyone else, it is crucial to assert your right to counsel. An experienced Texas white collar crimes lawyer can provide you with aggressive representation. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today in Houston, Galveston, or League City to speak with an attorney right away.

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