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Milwaukee embezzlement defense lawyer white collar crimeBy Ray Dall’Osto and Brianna Meyer

If you pay attention to the news, you will often see stories about an employee being charged with embezzlement. A common embezzlement fact pattern involves an office manager or bookkeeper who is accused of diverting their employer’s money to his personal account, often in small increments over a long period of time, or charging and purchasing personal items using the employer’s credit. Another situation involves a company officer, attorney, or trustee who diverts funds they are entrusted with for their personal use or for another, without the company’s or client’s knowledge and permission.  

By the time the employer or entity detects possible impropriety and embezzlement, thousands to millions of dollars will have gone unaccounted for. A 2017 study of embezzlement cases nationally found the median loss to be at $300,000 and the average loss over $1 million.

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white collar crimes, embezzlement, embezzlement laws, Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer, Wisconsin embezzlement casesTheft can take many forms, from seemingly minor offenses like shoplifting to major financial crimes involving millions of dollars, high-value real estate, and/or banks or other organizations. While the news often focuses on bank fraud, securities fraud, and other high-profile white collar crimes, another form of theft that is common in Wisconsin is embezzlement. 

Embezzlement Laws in Wisconsin

Embezzlement is typically defined as the theft of money or property by an employee from his or her employer. However, it can also include the theft of property that is placed in one’s trust by someone else, such as a friend or family member. 

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin white collar crimes attorneyWhite collar crimes are often complex and involve months and years of preparations before prosecutors bring formal charges. There is no official set of crimes under the law called white collar crimes. However, federal and state crimes involving fraud and finances are generally considered to be white collar crimes. These include things such as embezzlement, securities fraud, computer crimes, and identity theft.

Dangers of a Lengthy Investigation

Because white collar crimes often involve many different sets of financial records and a complicated set of facts, the investigations are often lengthy. Law enforcement investigations may span months, or even years..

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin white collar crimes attorneyAlthough Wisconsin does not call it “embezzlement,” the act of pilfering money or property by an employee is delineated under Wisconsin statute 943.20 is a felony. This “theft” statute defines the illegal action of any person who has taken funds or property, greater than $10,000 in value, without the owner’s consent and resulting in personal or business gain for the offender. Although prosecution and restitution may be handled as a civil matter between the business or entity that has experienced loss and the alleged person responsible for the loss, embezzlement cases are often charged criminally.

In fact, one historical Wisconsin embezzlement case secured a coveted ranking on the Marquet International, Ltd. top ten list of embezzlement cases in the United States.  Marquet International, Ltd.© is an international investigative and security consulting firm, headed by industry veteran Christopher T. Marquet.  Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva of Wisconsin was placed in the ninth slot on his list of historical embezzlement cases. As Chief Financial Officer for Koss Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sachdeva reportedly embezzled an estimated $40.9 million dollars (2010 calculations) through fraudulent fund transfers. The scope of her embezzlement spanned 12 years, beginning in 1997 and ending in December 2009 when her white collar crime spree was disclosed. Although Sachdeva first pled not guilty, she later changed her plea and on November 17, 2010, received an 11 year prison sentence. Although embezzlement cases may bring to mind corporate indiscretions, another infamous Wisconsin embezzlement case is that of Laura J. Craig of Oakwood, Wisconsin. Craig, who served as the bookkeeper for the Salem United Methodist Church, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was sentenced to nine months in jail after she was found guilty of embezzlement of $113,000 from the church between January 2007 through May of 2008. For those accused of committing embezzlement fraud under Wisconsin law, the guidelines for punishment are as follows:
  • If the value of the property is less than $2,500, the defendant is looking at a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in jail and a fine of $10,000;
  • If the value of the property is between $2,500 and $5,000, the defendant is looking at jail time up to four years with the crime now being identified as a felony and punishable by a $10,000 fine;
  • If the value of the property extends from $5,000 to $10,000, the charge is also classified as a felony and punishable by up to six years in prison with an attached $10,000 fine; or
  • If the value of the property exceeds $10,000, the charge is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison with a $25,000 fine.
If you are currently facing a theft charge under Wisconsin Statute 943.20, the experienced Milwaukee criminal law attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin, Brown, LLP would like to review your case. Contact our office at 414-271-1440 to discuss the charges, possible penalties and what legal options may be available to you. Sources: http://wicourts.gov/services/judge/truth.htm http://marquetinternational.com/ http://marquetinternational.com/pdf/top_10_embezzlement_cases_in_us_history.pdf
http://fraudtalk.blogspot.com/2009/04/wisconsin-woman-sentenced-in-church.html

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin criminal lawsThroughout history, theft has been interchangeably identified as larceny. Under Wisconsin law, a larceny or theft is committed when an individual intentionally “takes and carries away, uses, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of movable property of another without the other's consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of such property.”

If you or someone you loved was wrongly charged with committing a theft, you should contact an experienced theft defense attorney who will evaluate your case and advise you of the best course of action depending on the circumstances of your case.

Elements of Theft

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