Los Angeles Embezzlement by a Public Official Lawyers
Nobody wants to be accused of a crime. Charges of embezzlement can be particularly damaging to your reputation, making it difficult to seek employment in the public or private sector.
It gets headlines when a public official is accused of embezzlement. Many prosecutors will aggressively pursue these cases to grab attention and bolster their careers. If you’re a public official who’s been charged with embezzlement, it’s important to find a seasoned Los Angeles embezzlement defense attorney who won’t be intimidated by overzealous prosecutors.
Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is a nationally recognized criminal defense firm that achieves successful outcomes for clients in high-stakes cases. Our office is conveniently located near Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles Central Library, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. We have represented celebrities, public officials, captains of industry, and members of royal families, and we won’t back down from anybody.
Call (213) 688-0460 to learn more today.
Embezzlement occurs when a person officially entrusted with funds or assets fraudulently misuses, misappropriates, or takes possession of those assets for personal gain. To do something fraudulently means acting with trickery, deception, or dishonest means.
A public official is “an official of the state, or an official of a county, city, city and county, district, or authority, or any department, division, bureau, board, commission, agency, or instrumentality of any of these entities.” This includes state, city, municipal, and county employees such as clerks, secretaries, and accountants, in addition to elected officials such as mayors, governors, and council members.
According to California Penal Code Section 504, to convict a public official of embezzlement, prosecutors must prove the following:
- There was fraudulent use of public funds or property.
- The public funds or property in question were used in a manner that’s inconsistent with the official’s public authority.
There are many ways that funds and assets can be misused, diverted, or misappropriated. Examples of embezzlement by a public official include:
- Using public accounts and credit cards for personal reasons.
- Transferring public funds to private accounts.
- Allowing friends or family members to use cars, real estate, and other public assets.
- Pocketing cash payments from fundraisers and other events.
- “Double-dipping” by charging expenses to a government credit card and then requesting reimbursement.
- Creating false invoices to bill for goods or services that were never received.
- Stealing government equipment.
- Siphoning off government funds and putting the money in ghost accounts.
- Payroll fraud that diverts money to nonexistent employees or people who are not performing stated job duties.
- Billing for overtime that was never performed.
Embezzlement by a public official may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the monetary value of the assets involved. Misdemeanor charges involve petty theft, which involves less than $950. Penalties include up to six months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Embezzlement by a public official is prosecuted as a felony when the assets involved constitute grand theft, which is an amount greater than $950. Penalties may include up to three years in jail, up to $10,000 in fines, restitution, probation, and mandatory counseling.
A felony conviction may have additional negative consequences:
- Loss of professional licenses
- Loss of gun rights
- Damage to your reputation
- Damage to your military career
- Damage to your immigration status
If you are currently being investigated for embezzlement by a public official, it’s important to retain legal counsel right away. It’s not advisable to allow police, employers, prosecutors, or anyone else to question you without an attorney present.
There are many effective legal strategies that can be used to get the charges against you dismissed, including:
- You are not a public official.
- You did not commit fraud.
- Witnesses against you are unreliable.
- You were the victim of an illegal search and seizure.
- You were acting under duress.
- You never intended to commit a crime.
- There’s a reasonable explanation for what happened.
- There isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that you committed a crime.
Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is one of the most distinguished criminal defense firms in the nation. Our experienced Los Angeles white-collar crime lawyers will find the best legal strategy to protect your freedom and your good name.
Our Los Angeles firm has been featured on CNBC, Fox News, ABC News, the BBC, Esquire, and the Los Angeles Times. Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is recognized by the independent rating agency Super Lawyers for providing our clients with outstanding service, and we have an AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which signifies the highest ethical standards and legal ability.
Call (213) 688-0460 to schedule a case review today.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.