Pennsylvania’s statutes categorize embezzlement as theft, which could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. The U.S. Department of Justice describes embezzlement as fraudulently misappropriating property placed in an individual’s trust.
Property that employees control as part of their jobs requires exercising a fiduciary duty of care. When an employee breaches a duty by using an employer’s money for personal benefit, a prosecutor may file embezzlement charges.
The difference between a misdemeanor and felony charges
Chapter 39 of Pennsylvania’s statutes note that the amount allegedly taken may distinguish misdemeanor from felony theft offenses. If an employer believes an employee took property worth less than $50, it may result in a misdemeanor charge.
When allegations of theft involve amounts greater than $2,000, an employee may face a third-degree felony charge. If the value exceeds $100,000, the offense may upgrade to a second-degree felony.
Butler County man pleads guilty to the embezzlement-related charge
In a case reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a former controller pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud related to embezzlement. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he admitted to misappropriating funds from his employer over about 10 years.
Evidence leading to the guilty plea included the defendant altering the company’s books to conceal his activities. His employment ended when the company discovered the defendant’s actions. A follow-up investigation by the FBI led to the charges.
Employers may conduct an internal investigation when they suspect an employee of misappropriating funds. Based on the results, the employer could turn over information to law enforcement. Officials may then file embezzlement charges. An individual may, however, defend against a prosecutor’s allegations to reduce the severity of the outcome.