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Employee theft: Stealing office supplies is still embezzlement

Embezzlement is a type of employee theft that companies and agencies regularly experience. Many embezzlers don't even see themselves as guilty of anything, let alone something that sounds so bluntly wrong, like "theft." That's because many office embezzlers go for the same items so often it's become a television trope — they steal office supplies.

However, that's exactly what embezzlement is -- theft by a person in a position of trust who uses that position to hide what he or she has done. It doesn't matter if what you are stealing is a really nice stapler and some boxes of staples or the contents of the petty cash box.

Although classified as a white collar crime, many embezzlers that eventually get caught often made off with more money than you'd likely get from robbing a bank. In fact, what often leads to their exposure is the same old thing — a sense of hubris that they eventually can't contain. That need to brag about what they've done (and been doing, probably for years) is what usually brings them down.

Take, for example, the recent case of the procurement director for the Staten Island District Attorney's office. Trusted with the power to order (of all things) office supplies for a very large and busy government office, he gradually started diverting funds his own way.

He spent those funds on nice drinks, nice food, nice cigars and nice family trips. Over a period of ten years, he embezzled almost a half million dollars in "special expenditures" that he claimed were things like surveillance operations -- instead of the $100,000 he blew on a knife collection.

To hide his crimes, he had the statements (which were the district attorney's government-issued credit cards) diverted to his office and then signed off on them.

It worked for about 10 years, until he made a big grab for about $50,000, bringing down his house of cards. What accidentally turned investigators onto him was nothing but simple bragging on his Instagram account. Photos showed him enjoying a lifestyle that seemed a trifle above his salary, although that was more than $88,000.

It's important to understand that embezzlement is a serious crime. If you're suspected of embezzlement or have embezzled funds you thought you'd be able to pay back, get a white collar defense attorney right away.

Source: FindLaw, "Embezzlement," accessed Sep. 01, 2017

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