Federal Embezzlement

Embezzlement is an illegal removal of funds or property that was entrusted to a person or group that seized it from the party who maintained legal ownership of it at the time the theft occurred.

For a charge of embezzlement to be a federal offense it must be an act of theft directly against the United States government or one that follows the considerations for the violation of other federal crimes by those entrusted with the oversight of the holdings in question. Embezzlement by itself is basically a theft in addition to a violation by a person or group that was placed in a position of trust to oversee items of value.

For a page devoted to an explanation of embezzlement charges filed by the State of Florida, click here.

If you, a loved one, or someone close to you believes that an investigation has been initiated or an arrest has taken place for this type of federal crime, a Fort Lauderdale Federal Embezzlement Attorney can assist with fighting all allegations brought forward by the federal government.

One example of a federal embezzlement charge that follows the considerations for other crimes tried in the federal courts can begin as an initial charge of wire fraud. If the alleged crime was committed by a federal employee who was entrusted with oversight of federal funds or property by using the "wires" (telephone, computer, etc.) the prosecution could file charges as federal embezzlement, wire fraud, or both. Similarly, since wire fraud is automatically a federal offense, a charge of embezzlement can be prosecuted by the government against any individual or group that embezzles money or property even if the crime did not meet the aforementioned considerations. To read an FBI press release that fits these criteria, click here.

Other examples of federal embezzlement would be if an employee, such as a bookkeeper or an accountant of any federal agency stole money, records, or any other item of value from a government body, office or account. This can also hold true for employees such as those who work on federal land, such as a National Park, as well as an employee of any contractor or business in the private sector with a federal contract who stole property that was paid for by the government.

In most cases, in addition to jail time a fine in the amount of $250,000 is imposed for a felony conviction while a fine up to $100,000 will be levied for a misdemeanor guilty verdict or accepted plea deal.

In reference to incarceration, any individual from the private sector who is found guilty of embezzling cash assets, property, records, or any other items of value that belongs to the government of the United States as well as any of its agencies which is worth more than $1,000 will be imprisoned for up to ten years and will pay a fine as described above, or both.  If the value is under $1,000 a sentence of up to one year in jail will be imposed as well as the fine for the described misdemeanor or both. 

Exceptions to the amount of fines are based on the amount of money embezzled if the conviction involves a federal employee. For felony embezzlement of public money, the base amount of the fine remains $250,000 but can be increased to be equal to the amount which was embezzled if it exceeds that threshold. The period of incarceration remains the same as for those in the private sector (10 years) as do both the fine and prison sentence for a misdemeanor conviction. These penalties also apply for any employee of the US treasury or other public federal depository and a federal employee or officer who is charged with disbursing public money.

In cases involving bank examiners and their assistants that are members of the Federal Reserve, insured by the FDIC, a farm credit agency that holds security for a farm loan, an individual who solicits a gift of money or other property on behalf of the government, an employee benefit plan, or theft of livestock of $10,000 or more, the maximum prison term is five years. All of these cases rely on a theft of over $100,000, except the stated $10,000 threshold relating to livestock and in the case of members of the Federal Reserve who will be penalized the same if the amount is more than $1000.

For a felony conviction by officers of a lending, insurance or credit institution, such as a National Bank or any of its employees the sentence for a conviction can be a fine of up to $1,000,000 and an extended prison term of up to 30 years, or both. A misdemeanor conviction holds the same penalties as those listed above for other crimes of this nature.

A sentence that fits the felony conviction parameters concerning items or artwork embezzled from a museum that is worth a bottom-most value of $100,000 or is worth at least $5,000 and is over 100 years old will also be applied.

For a conviction involving a health care benefit plan the penalties are very harsh. The fine of up to $250,000 and up to ten years in prison or both stands even for as small an amount as $100. Under $100 incurs a fine of between $5,000 and $100,000, up to one year in jail, or both.   

In the instance of an organization or group being found guilty of this crime, the consequences are also more severe. The maximum penalty for a felony can start at $500,000 and can swell to double the amount lost by the governmental victim. Even a misdemeanor conviction penalty begins at $200,000.


It should also be noted that a federal judge has discretion to impose a fine which is up to twice the value of what the convicted individual or group gained from any embezzlement conviction.

There are many defenses for federal embezzlement charges including the key element for the prosecution to prove that not only a theft occurred from someone who was entrusted with it, but additionally that the funds or property were disbursed or sold to enrich the defendant's personal gain.

If you or someone close to you is facing federal embezzlement charges, call now for a free case evaluation. A full listing of my qualifications can be viewed by, clicking here.

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney committed to the vigorous defense of all federal and state criminal allegations specializing in cases of embezzlement, now practicing as a criminal defense attorney, diligently working for the public since the onset of the twenty-first century. With close to forty years of combined courtroom experience prosecuting cases for the federal government as well as cases prosecuted for the State of Florida, now giving my clients a clear advantage working unwaveringly for the defense.