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What Is Embezzlement?

August 11, 2015 | Written by Dan Margolis

Many jobs involve the responsibility of controlling and keeping track of the employer’s money. Obviously, the business must put a great deal of trust in the employee in charge of the checkbook. When someone breaks that trust, the law calls it embezzlement.

Though criminal laws vary from state to state, in general embezzlement is defined as the theft of assets by a person who does not own the assets, but is in a position of trust or responsibility over them. A simple example would be a store employee who takes money out of the cash register. The employee had legal possession of the money while working the register, but abused that right to steal some of the cash.

In general, to prove embezzlement the prosecution must prove four things were true:

1. There was a fiduciary relationship between the parties

2. The defendant acquired the property through that relationship

3. The defendant took ownership of the property or transferred it to another party

4. The defendant acted intentionally

As this description suggests, most often people are accused of stealing from their employer, especially in a corporate environment. One form of embezzlement is known as accounting embezzlement. This involves stealing from an employer’s funds, then manipulating accounting records to hide the theft. Other cases have involved fraudulent billing statements, payroll checks to fake “employees” and Ponzi-style financial schemes.

Embezzlement is a serious charge in Ohio, so if you are ever arrested on suspicion of this crime, it is important that you speak to a defense attorney before answering any questions from the police.

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