When you hear certain terms like wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and, of course, embezzlement, there is a natural inclination to associate these crimes with agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and, of course, the Department of Justice.
While it's true that these agencies frequently handle investigations and prosecutions of these types of offenses, it's nevertheless important to understand that white collar crimes are by no means the exclusive domain of the federal government.
For example, law enforcement officials right here in Illinois regularly investigate, charge, and prosecute people for allegedly committing these sorts of financial crimes. Consider for example, the crime of embezzlement, which under state law is punishable by potentially steep fines and lengthy sentences.
What is embezzlement?
In general, embezzlement charges are brought when law enforcement officials believe that a defendant, otherwise entrusted with the care or management of money or property owned by another, takes some or all of this money or property for themselves.
What differentiates embezzlement from common theft is the idea that the person not only took the money or property without the consent of the owner(s), but did so while holding this special position of trust.
Who is typically charged with embezzlement?
While people might envision corporate VIPs as being the type most likely to be charged with embezzlement, people from all occupations and all walks of life can end up facing these charges. Indeed, while board members or corporate officers could be charged with embezzling company funds, so too could a bank officer entrusted with client funds, a fund manager entrusted with client funds, a school board officer entrusted with district funds, or a relative entrusted with a family member's funds.
We'll continue to examine this topic in our next post, exploring some of the strict penalties called for by Illinois law for those convicted of embezzlement.
In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you are under investigation or have already been charged with any sort of white collar crime at the state or federal level.