Penalties for Federal Embezzlement in New York
Federal embezzlement is a serious crime that carries significant penalties in New York. Embezzlement involves the fraudulent taking of money or property by someone who has been entrusted with it. When it involves federal funds or property, it becomes a federal crime prosecuted in federal court.
Overview of Federal Embezzlement Laws
The main federal embezzlement laws are contained in Title 18, Chapter 31 of the United States Code. These laws prohibit the embezzlement of public money, property or records, tools and materials used for counterfeiting, and any funds related to the federal government’s business and accounting.
Some key features of federal embezzlement laws:
- They apply when federal government funds, property or records are embezzled. This includes funds or property belonging to federal agencies, departments or contractors.
- Embezzlement by federal officers, employees or agents is prohibited. This includes embezzlement related to public accounting of funds.
- Receiving unauthorized deposits of public money into personal accounts is prohibited.
- Custodians and depositaries of federal funds are prohibited from misusing those funds.
- Bank examiners and disbursing officers are prohibited from embezzlement related to their duties.
Federal embezzlement is categorized based on the value of funds or property embezzled:
- Less than $1,000 – Misdemeanor, punishable by:
- Up to 1 year in prison
- Fine of up to $100,000
- $1,000 or more – Felony, punishable by:
- Up to 10 years in prison
- Fine of up to $250,000
- Other circumstances – Increased penalties for embezzlement by bank employees, Federal Reserve employees, and employees of lending, credit or insurance institutions. Can be punished by:
- Up to 30 years in prison
- Fines up to $1 million
In all cases, courts can order defendants to pay restitution equal to the amount embezzled. Fines up to twice the amount gained/lost may also be imposed.
In addition to the statutory penalties, federal judges use the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to determine sentences. The guidelines provide a sentencing range based on:
- Defendant’s criminal history
- Specific offense characteristics
This significantly impacts the actual sentence imposed. It’s important to have an experienced federal embezzlement attorney argue for the lowest possible range.
Types of Federal Embezzlement
Some common ways federal embezzlement laws are violated:
- Misuse of federal funds: Custodians or depositaries fail to properly account for or misappropriate funds entrusted to them.
- Unauthorized deposits: Federal employees or agents deposit public money into personal accounts.
- Accounting fraud: Federal employees falsify accounting records to conceal embezzlement.
- Bank fraud: Federal bank examiners or employees embezzle bank funds under federal oversight.
- Government property: Federal employees use government property for personal purposes or gain.
- Government records: Federal employees destroy or conceal public records to facilitate embezzlement.
- Counterfeiting: Employees misuse government materials and tools used for printing money and financial instruments.
Defenses to Federal Embezzlement
Some possible defenses to federal embezzlement charges include:
- Lack of criminal intent – The defendant did not act with intent to defraud.
- Lack of knowledge – The defendant was unaware the funds were federal in nature.
- Authorized use – The defendant was authorized to use funds or property in that manner.
- Return of property – The defendant returned or paid back embezzled property.
- Accounting errors – Any shortages were due to mistakes, not intentional wrongdoing.
- Duress or coercion – The defendant only acted under threat or pressure from others.
An experienced federal embezzlement attorney can evaluate the evidence and determine if any defenses apply to your case.