Category Archives: White Collar Crimes

Embezzlement, Theft, and Illinois LawThe Daily Herald recently reported that the last of four suburban Chicago residents who devised a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme involving a Chicago law firm has pleaded guilty to theft. Deborah Acuna, 63, of Oak Brook, received a 10-month jail sentence, 18 months of probation, and an order to pay restitution in the amount of $175,000. This illustrates the potentially severe sentence that an individual can receive if convicted of theft or embezzlement under Illinois law.

Four Sentenced for Embezzling Six Million Dollars from Chicago Law Firm

Acuna and her sister, Patricia Lapinski, founded DAS Designs, a business that provided furniture for the Vedder Price law firm, where Lapinski worked as office manager. The two sisters conspired with a North Aurora floor company manager and a Frankfort furniture repair company owner to create phony invoices for the law firm to pay DAS over six million dollars, including one million dollars in services and goods that DAS never provided. The four individuals then used the proceeds to finance homes, vacations, and other items of property.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_sales-tax-evasion.jpgA DuPage County man was recently indicted on theft and tax fraud charges for allegedly stealing over $391,000. The man, who managed a tobacco shop in Glendale Heights, is alleged to have understated his sales tax liability by filing fraudulent sales tax returns between August 2011 and July 2014. He has been charged with theft of government property, sales tax evasion, filing a fraudulent sales tax return, and wire fraud.

Sales Tax

When consumers buy products or services in Illinois, they owe sales tax to the state government. Instead of requiring consumers to track their purchases and pay sales tax directly to the Illinois Department of Revenue, sellers generally collect the tax and hold it in trust for the state. The seller must then pay the money to the state, generally on a monthly basis. If the seller does not pay the sales tax to the state, it is a criminal offense.

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embezzlementEmbezzlement is a crime we often hear about in the news in relation to higher-up business people and politicians, but not many people are aware of what it actually means. Because it is more common amongst people outside of the everyday average Joe, we tend to detach ourselves from it. However, this does not mean that you should not familiarize yourself with it, for there is no telling where your life will take you.

By definition, embezzlement is the “fraudulent conversion of another’s property by a person who is in a position of trust, such as an agent or employee.” Often compared to the act of swindling, embezzlement differs from swindling because swindling involves wrongfully obtaining property by a false pretense (a lie or a trick, for example) at the time the property is transferred. To break it down a little more, embezzlement is a type of property theft. The person who commits embezzlement is somebody who is entrusted to manage or monitor someone else’s money or property. Referred to as a defendant, this person has legal access to another person’s money or property but does not have legal ownership of it. Embezzlement is unique in that the defendant has both committed theft and has violated a special position of trust. Here in Illinois, embezzlement is generally punished based on the value or type of property that has been stolen. Punishments are as follows:

  • $500 or less: up to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, or both;
  • Over $500 but under $10,00: up to $25,000 in fines, two to five years in jail, or both;
  • Over $10,000 but under $100,000: up to $25,00 in fines, three to seven years in jail, or both;
  • Over $100,000 but under $500,000: up to $25,000 in fines, six to 30 years in jail, or both;
  • Over $500,000 but under $1,000,000: up to $25,000 in fines, four to 15 years in jail (without possibility of parole and probation), or both;
  • Over $1,000,000: up to $25,000 in fines, six to 30 years in jail, or both.

If you or somebody you know has been charged with embezzlement, you do not have to face it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal attorney to assist you.  

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Embezzlement tends not to be an everyday word that people hear often. It is most often spoken in action movies in which the characters create fake identifications and get high-paying jobs, which they use to embezzle money from the company to become rich before retiring to a far-away, tropical island.  The word “embezzlement,” though, was defined in Moore v. United States in 1895 by the Supreme Court. “Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted, or into whose hands it has lawfully come.” What this means is that, for example, if someone is hired for a job working for the government doing some financial work, he or she is then legally responsible for that money. If that person then decides to misuse or use that money for a reason other than its intended purpose, such as putting it into a personal bank account, he or she is embezzling that money. Moore v. U.S. also stated that there is a difference in embezzlement and larceny because in embezzlement the criminal received control of the money or property lawfully and knowingly of those who own it. In larceny, the criminal intends to misuse the money when he or she takes the money or position in which he or she can take the money. Within the crime of embezzlement, there are six elements:

  1. There is some type of trustworthy relationship between the property owner and the alleged embezzler
  2.  The property is government property
  3.  The defendant gained possession or responsibility of the property through his or her employment
  4.  The property did not belong to the defendant, it is the property of the United States
  5.  The actions taken with the property by the defendant was not appropriate  for its own use, it was used for something other than its intended use
  6.  The defendant intended for the owner of the property to no longer have that property

If you have considered using a government position to embezzle money for your own gain, first consider that it is a serious offense. If you have been  accused of embezzlement, contact a Naperville white collar crime defense attorney for help. Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, Attorneys at Law can assist you with your embezzlement case in Naperville, Ill. today.

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