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Is Shoddy Bookkeeping Embezzlement?

man worried about Embezzlement
November 4, 2019 | Written by Dan Margolis

Inaccurate financial reporting is a huge problem for businesses. But sometimes, shoddy accounting can appear criminal. This can lead to bookkeepers, accountants, and other professionals being charged with embezzlement, or other similar crimes even if it is the result of inexperience or lack of diligence.

The problem is your employer or law enforcement rarely agree to give you the benefit of the doubt. If they detect anomalies in your company’s books, your best course of action is to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

In the Cleveland area, The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis can step in and gather the evidence needed to resolve the issue.

Call us today at (216) 533-9533 for a free and confidential consultation.

Embezzlement Must Be Intentional

Embezzlement is a type of theft where the offender goes beyond the scope of the consent granted to them to manage another’s property for their benefit. Embezzlement can take various forms, like using a company credit card to fill the gas tank in your personal vehicle or exploiting your ability to access company funds to steal money.

When an accountant is committing systematic embezzlement by moving money around, careless bookkeeping can look like inflated invoices or skewed figures. This might look like evidence of criminal intent, but it can also just be a sign that you are overworked, tired, or distracted.

Intentional Falsification of Records

Another criminal statute relevant to embezzlement is covered by Ohio Revised Code section 2913.42, which prohibits falsifying, destroying, removing, concealing, altering, or defacing any writing, computer software, data, or record without authority and with the intention of committing or facilitating fraud. Depending on whether the records were computerized, and how much the victim lost, tampering with records may be a misdemeanor or a felony.

At first glance, a mistake or oversight like the wrong file being deleted could look like an employee trying to conceal wrongdoing.

Embezzlement Penalties

The penalties for embezzlement in Ohio depend on the value of what was allegedly taken:

  • $500 or less is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.
  • Between $500 and $5,000 is a fifth-degree felony and results in at least six to twelve months in prison.
  • Between $5,000 and $100,000 is a fourth-degree felony and results in at least six and up to 18 months in prison.
  • Between $100,000 and $500,000 is a third-degree felony and results in at least one to five years in prison.
  • Between $500,000 and $1 million is a second-degree felony and results in anywhere from two to eight years in prison.
  • More than $1,000,000 is a first-degree felony resulting in anywhere from three to ten years in prison.

Aside from time in custody, a conviction for embezzlement or any theft charge in Ohio will be a significant mark on your criminal record. It will preclude you from most careers in the financial industry and make it very difficult to move on.

Call The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis

These accusations are serious, but you have rights and options to consider. The important thing is to call a defense lawyer with experience in embezzlement cases as soon as possible. Attorney Margolis has assisted many clients in Northern Ohio, who found themselves accused of embezzlement or tampering with records relating to their jobs, and knows how to help.

Call the Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis today at (216) 533-9533 for a free consultation.

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