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Virginia man's embezzlement charge reduced by plea deal

Embezzlement may be categorized as larceny or theft. Virginia defendants charged with embezzlement are accused of stealing property, usually money, they were authorized to handle. The criminal charge remains the same, whether property is taken in one lump sum or misappropriated a little at a time.

Money showed up missing from a trust fund four years after it was established to defray the medical costs of a sick boy. The fund was launched in 2004 by a couple trying to help a child with a genetic condition that affects the production of blood cells. One of the fund's co-founders, a trustee, recently admitted he took over $144,000 out of the fund over five years.

Investigators discovered where the missing money went by reviewing bank records. Funds were transferred into the defendant's personal account. Reports did not say when the transfers were uncovered and made no mention of how the money was used.

A five-county felony embezzlement charge was reduced to a misdemeanor embezzlement charge, following a plea agreement. All the money that was taken from the boy's fund was returned with interest at the defendant's sentencing hearing. The Dinwiddie County man was given a suspended one-year sentence.

Embezzlement is a white collar crime that occurs more often in not in a corporate environment or employment setting. Money may be funneled away from its source indirectly to try to disguise the trail. Methods used to embezzle may be as simple as stealing one dollar at a time out of a store's cash drawer to elaborate false documentation.

A possible criminal defense includes creating doubt about how and when property disappeared. The strategy may be successful, especially if more than one individual had access to the money in question. When there is no doubt of guilt, the defendant can enter negotiations that may lead to a reduction of charges and fewer long-term consequences upon conviction.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Trustee who stole $144,000 from fund to help sick Dinwiddie boy pleads guilty" Mark Bowes, Aug. 12, 2014

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