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What is embezzlement?

  • Birdsall Obear

People in Sheboygan and other parts of Northeastern Wisconsin may have heard the term embezzlement in the context of stories about major corporate or political scandals.

Embezzlement is actually a type of theft. Whereas some people might think of a thief as someone who shoplifts or breaks in to parked cars or even just takes an opportunity to rummage through one's personal belongings, someone accused of embezzlement usually enjoys the benefit of some sort of trust.

This is because embezzlement involves the diverting of someone else's money or other property to personal use. It often can be described an inside job, because it usually involves an employee or officer of a business, or governmental body, who has some control of business's books or property. The person then abuses this power by taking money, or other property, and then trying to cover it up.

Oftentimes, embezzlement is not a one-shot deal but rather a series of small indiscretions over time, something that can be as simple as helping one's self to the petty cash drawer and then not paying it back.

In Wisconsin, it is likely that someone who accused of embezzlement will be charged under the state's laws prohibiting theft. Depending on how much property wound up getting taken, the charge can be a serious felony that could land a person in prison, not to mention on probation with strict terms, including the requirement to quickly pay back all stolen property. 

Good people do make mistakes, and if such is the case, then a criminal defense law firm in Sheboygan can help such people piece their lives back together. In other cases, though, what authorities are calling embezzlement could in reality be no more than ignorance, an honest mistake or, at worst, unacceptable but certainly not criminal carelessness. People in these sorts of cases will likely need a vigorous defense.

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