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Woman sentenced for embezzling from Michigan nonprofit

| Jan 20, 2021 | White Collar Crimes |

A Michigan judge sentenced a woman to two years of probation on Jan. 13 for embezzling $75,000 from a Kent County nonprofit organization where she served as treasurer. He also ordered her to repay the money she took. The woman’s probation could end early if she makes full restitution. She could also find herself in prison if she violates the conditions of her supervised release. According to media reports, the woman took money earmarked to help student athletes.

Financial irregularities prompt investigation

Investigators began looking into the woman’s activities when a new treasurer appointed by the nonprofit organization noticed financial irregularities. Investigators discovered that the woman had withdrawn funds from the organization’s bank account and cashed checks made payable to herself. The embezzlement began in 2016 and continued until 2018. Investigators also learned that the nonprofit group’s oversight was lax, which made the embezzlement easier. The organization’s banking arrangements required two signatures on all checks, but the second signer admitted to giving the woman an entire book of signed blank checks. The woman told investigators that she took the money when she was suffering from depression and going through a period of financial hardship.

Plea agreement

Prosecutors charged the woman with embezzlement from a charitable organization and attempted embezzlement in June 2019. Her sentence was handed down as part of a plea agreement she entered into in November 2020. Prosecutors agreed to drop the attempted embezzlement count and offered the woman a reduced sentence on the embezzlement charge in return for her guilty plea. During her sentencing hearing, the woman apologized for her actions and vowed to repay the money she took.

Mitigating factors

The outcome of this case reveals that prosecutors may offer lenient sentences in cases involving white-collar crimes to avoid the risks of a trial. If you find yourself facing embezzlement, fraud or bribery charges and there is strong evidence against you, an experienced criminal defense attorney might seek to reduce your sentence by discussing mitigating factors during plea negotiations. An attorney may be able to tell the prosecutor about your genuine regret, your previously unblemished record and your desire to make restitution.