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Employee Embezzlement and Fraud Charges

When an employee gets accused of taking money, merchandise, products, or writing checks without permission from his employer it almost always costs the employee his or her job. Often times the employer will call in law enforcement to back up the claim of theft. Why? Many times it is in the employer’s interest to have the theft investigated and prosecuted by the District Attorney.

The employer may have insurance which will reimburse the employer for losses caused by employee theft. If embezzlement or theft charges are filed, the District Attorney will, by the very filing of charges, protect the employer from allegations by the employee that he or she was wrongfully discharged or fired.

For example, if the worker is preparing to file a sexual harassment charge against the employer what better way to prevent the sexual allegations from being found to be true than to claim the employee stole from the company? The fact that the theft claim is made first puts the employee on the defensive and makes the sexual harassment allegations appear as merely retaliatory for the employer’s claims of theft. This is just one example of how the employer might wrongfully accuse a worker in an effort to protect himself from allegations of wrongdoing.

Many instances of false claims of embezzlement arise out of the practices of the employer. For example, businesses often want their employees to take work home and finish it on their own time without compensation. In order to accomplish the work the employee may take the business computer home with them. The employee may even keep the computer (lap top or otherwise) at home in order to work on the business of the employer at home.

Even if compensated for the work at home, when the unwritten business practice is to let the employee take the item, whatever it is, home, when the employer wants to terminate the employee a convenient excuse is theft of the item(s) taken to the employee’s home. If the employee has used the computer for personal matters as well as business, the employee can look guilty even though originally the item was taken with either explicit permission or at the very least implicit agreement of the employer. It’s only when things sour between the employer and employee that it becomes a “problem”.

An employee accused of embezzlement or theft must try and document all aspects of the permission to take any items or funds. This can be done by talking to co-workers and having them corroborate the permission given. Also, emails and other written memorandum should be preserved in order to prove that the employer was aware of the employee’s actions and agreed to them prior to the time the employer looked for an excuse to terminate the employee.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in this regard. The hiring of an attorney at the earliest stages of the investigation can prevent a criminal filing. The best advice I can give is hire your defense attorney right away and follow his guidance because you very quickly find he can be your only friend when you are in trouble.