Being investigated for or accused of committing a crime can be a terrifying experience. After all, the outcome will have an enormous impact on your life, your family and your career. Embezzlement is a crime that most have heard of but they don’t necessarily understand, particularly at the federal level.
It’s a theft, but more than that
Embezzlement is basically theft. The alleged embezzler is accused of taking something that is not theirs. However, embezzlement is different because of the relationship between the person accused and the money or allegedly stolen property.
Embezzlement only happens when the alleged embezzler is in a position of authority or has some sort of control over the property but does not own it. That is why it is considered a white-collar crime. Those people who are accused commonly have authority over the property as a part of their job.
Federal embezzlement typically come up because the money or property in question has involved the U.S. government. The best example would be a federal employee who uses their position to embezzle public funds. However, the law is not limited to federal employees.
The manager of a private bank could also potentially commit federal embezzlement since the money comes from the Treasury Department. Another example would be someone who owns a business and has a federal contract. That person might misuse federal property, which they control for the contract.
The fact is that the person has a fiduciary relationship with the property. If they abuse their power over the property for their own use and the federal government has an ownership interest in the property, that is going to be a problem. It’s important to keep in mind that embezzlement can violate both federal and state law sometimes. Usually, the result is that either the state or federal government will handle the case alone; however, sometimes circumstances dictate that an individual can be charged by both governments.