As defined by the Supreme Court, embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to who the property was entrusted or into whose hands it has lawfully arrived. It’s different from larceny because the original acquisition was lawful. Due to the somewhat complicated nature of embezzlement cases, estate attorneys are always necessary to provide the best representation for victims.
White-collar crimes like embezzlement often aren’t addressed by a jury. Instead, they’re decided by a judge. Thus, it’s very important that both sides of the lawsuit acquire experienced lawyers who don’t just understand the estate planning particulars but also know how to come out victorious before a judge.
Embezzlement: A Complex White-Collar Crime
To prove an embezzlement crime under 18 United States Code, the judge must ensure these elements exist alongside the general attributes:
- A relationship or trust between the charged individual and the government agency or organization existed.
- The property became the care or possession of the charged due to their employment at the agency or private organization.
- The defendant intended to rid the property’s owner of their rightful usage.
- The defendant’s actions with the property were an unlawful adjustment or appropriation of their access to the property.
When to Seek Legal Help for Embezzlement Charges
Seeking professional legal help from a trust or estate litigation attorney is essential for those involved with embezzlement cases as they can help navigate the complicated criminal justice system.
Due to the complex nature and severity of such cases, the outcomes can forever affect people’s professional and personal lives. As soon as somebody has been charged with embezzlement, they should find legal help to obtain an outline of their options and gather a defense.
Notable Embezzlement Cases in U.S. History
While embezzlement comes in all shapes and sizes, the U.S. has endured its fair share of infamous cases that will help emphasize the severity of the charges — and the importance of an excellent lawyer.
• Robert Vesco
Robert Vesco brought the country one of its most compelling embezzlement cases to date.
According to the S.E.C., Vesco embezzled $224 million. But, he never stood trial for the allegations. Instead, he fled to Havana, Cuba.
Upon his arrival, the C.I.A. tracked him down only to be met with Cuban officials who denied his extradition. Therefore, Vesco lived out his days with the money he stole in South America, where no extradition laws existed.
Sources say Vesco died in 2007, but even that is mired in controversy and speculation.
• Dane Cook
Darryl McCauley embezzled millions of dollars from his brother, the comedian Dane Cook.
As Cook’s manager, he had access to his finances, meaning he could steal money and hide the evidence from his brother.
Luckily, Cook found out, and McCauley was charged with embezzlement and a six-year prison sentence.
If you suspect embezzlement or have concerns about a trustee breaching their fiduciary duty in some way, please contact the estate litigation professionals at Catanese & Wells today.