Embezzlement or Theft From a Federal Institution

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Embezzlement or Theft From a Federal Institution

Brian Kuester
Attorney Brian Kuester
Embezzlement Team Lead
Former US Attorney
Former District Attorney
Ellen Comley
Attorney Ellen Comley
Defense Team Lead
Senior Counsel
Roger Bach
Roger Bach
Team Consultant
Former Special Agent (OIG)

Under 18 U.S.C. ยง 657, depending on the amount, certain types of theft regarding a Lending or Credit Institutions are punishable by imprisonment of up to 30 years and incurring fines up to $1,000,000.00.

While theft and embezzlement are normally charged as state crimes, when the alleged offense involves stealing from a Federal Reserve bank or any federally-insured institution, those involved can face federal criminal charges. Attempting to steal as little as $1,000 can lead to up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Embezzlement from Banks, Financial Institutions, and the Federal Government Explained

Bank and Financial Institution Embezzlement Statutes

There are two statutes that work together to make embezzlement from any bank or other financial institution a federal offense. There are a few exceptions, but generally speaking, if you embezzle funds from a bank, you can expect to face federal criminal charges.

First, 18 U.S.C. Section 656 applies to anyone who is employed by or “connected in any capacity” with a Federal Reserve bank or any bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). It states that anyone who embezzles or willfully misapplies any money or other assets of the bank is guilty of a federal offense, and can face a 30-year prison sentence and up to $1 million in fines. If the offense involves less than $1,000, you can still be sentenced to up to one year behind bars and a $100,000 fine.

Second, 18 U.S.C. Section 657 applies to employees and other individuals “connected in any capacity” with:

  • The FDIC;
  • Certain other federal agencies involved in the banking industry; or,
  • Any federally-insured lending, mortgage, insurance, credit, or savings and loan institution.

Section 657 covers embezzlement and misapplication of funds from federally-insured institutions not covered by Section 656. The penalties for violating Section 657 are the same as the penalties for violating Section 656.

Embezzlement and Theft from the Federal Government

A third statute, 18 U.S.C. Section 641, makes it unlawful to embezzle or convert federal funds for personal use. The statute applies to government employees, contractors, and other individuals, and covers not only those who steal from the government, but those who receive, conceal, or retain stolen funds as well. Violations of Section 641 carry steep fines and up to 10 years in prison for crimes involving $1,000 or more, or up to one year in prison for embezzlement of less than $1,000.

Acts Constituting Embezzlement

Broadly speaking, the crime of “embezzlement” involves stealing money or property that someone else has entrusted to you to manage or monitor on their behalf. As a bank employee, you are entrusted with handling the bank’s and its customer’s funds. As an employee of the federal government, you may be given access to federal funds for making purchases, deposits, or performing other official duties. If you steal those funds or misapply them for your own personal benefit, you can be charged with embezzlement under federal law.

As technology continues to advance, the means by which employees and other individuals can embezzle money from banks are constantly evolving. Examples of actions that may be charged as embezzlement include:

  • “Skimming” cash from a teller drawer
  • Misdirecting electronic transfers
  • Credit and debit card fraud
  • Using access credentials to steal bank funds or deposits

Just as methods for embezzling involve, so too do methods for tracking and arresting alleged embezzlers. The federal government and banks use tools like biometric screening, keystroke monitoring software, locator devices, and DNA analysis to identify and arrest individuals suspected of criminal activity.

Defending Against Federal Theft and Embezzlement Charges

If you have been charged with theft or embezzlement from a bank, you need experienced legal representation. At the The Criminal Defense Firm, we center our practice on representing clients who are facing serious federal charges. As former federal prosecutors and experienced criminal embezzlement defense lawyers, we know the tactics the government will use to try to convict you. We can use this knowledge to fight for a dismissal or minimize the consequences of your arrest.

Penalties for Federal Theft and Embezzlement

Stealing from a bank when you are not in a position of trust is charged as robbery or theft. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 2113, bank theft whether through force or other means is punishable by fines and federal prison time. The penalties for bank theft vary widely depending on the nature of the crime, the amount stolen, and whether anyone was injured or threatened in the process of the crime. If you are being accused of bank theft, contact our theft or embezzlement defense attorney to learn more about your situation.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Embezzlement or Theft Defense Lawyer Today

The theft defense attorneys at The Criminal Defense Firm are here to protect your rights and fight your criminal charges. To get started with your defense, call 866-603-4540 or schedule a free, confidential case evaluation today.

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