Government Investigations in Federal Embezzlement Cases

The following is taken from an interview with a DC federal embezzlement lawyer as they discuss how embezzlement cases are investigated and what kind of agencies are typically involved. To learn more schedule a consultation with an attorney today.

Well, the government can seize evidence including documents using a search warrant signed by a judge or magistrate. They can also use their subpoena power for bank records. The government will have a subpoena from the court sent out and delivered to whomever they are seeking the records from. In cases involving fraud or other high document cases, you can expect to see numerous subpoenas to numerous entities to collect vast amounts of documents. The government will use every resource they can once they have decided to go after a defendant.

They will subpoena everything they think that might be useful and they will obtain search warrants if it’s an actual location where they believe evidence is located. They don’t want to give prior notice to the holder of that evidence to prevent the opportunity to destroy or otherwise move that evidence.

Law Enforcement Agencies and Detectives

The government will use law enforcement agencies. At the federal level you expect to see the involvement of FBI. They’ll also use other law enforcement agencies like the Secret Service and US Postal Inspectors. There will be different federal law enforcement agencies depending upon exactly what is being investigated and what the jurisdiction is. Also, the US Attorney’s Office has their own detectives that they will send out and you can expect that there will be many different law enforcement agencies involved in any kind of federal case.

How Do Federal Prosecutors Treat Embezzlement?

Federal prosecutors treat embezzlement cases fairly harshly because of the fact that, by nature, all embezzlement cases involve someone in a position of trust taking advantage of that position and harming either their employer, agency or organization. In general, as odd as it may sound, it’s considered worse to steal from someone who previously placed you in a position of trust then to steal from a stranger.

Now, taking out crimes of violence, it’s considered worse to be in a position of trust and abuse that trust than it is to be just someone who sees an opportunity and takes it. Therefore, there’s actually a provision in the federal sentencing guidelines that increases the penalty associated with any crime if the person who committed the crime was in a position of trust and abuses that position of trust to commit the crime. The prosecutors and the courts will view that pretty harshly.

Embezzlement Investigations and Prosecution in DC

Yes, they certainly can be. Number one, because DC is not a state, it has a very different prosecutorial system and structure than other jurisdictions meaning that we have the nation’s largest United States Attorney’s Office who handles the prosecution of all felonies in both DC Superior Court and DC federal court. Whereas every other jurisdiction will have some local authority like a state’s attorney, a county attorney, a city attorney or something of that nature.

Here, all these cases are going to be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office through the District of Columbia which brings into play the possibility of involvement of federal law enforcement agencies. DC itself has overlapping jurisdiction of multiple law enforcement agencies. There is the Metropolitan Police Department, which are like local city cops. There are also the United States Park Police, United States Capitol Police, Secret Service, FBI, DEA, and on and on and on.

It’s one of the few jurisdictions where you have such a huge overlapping presence of law enforcement that can be a resource for a prosecutor depending upon what they’re seeking and how they prosecute a case.

Also, because DC is the country’s headquarters for numerous nonprofit organizations and company headquarters, you’ve got an enormous number of organizations and agencies where embezzlement can occur.

Subsequently, we see some pretty high numbers of alleged embezzlement cases where an individual is accused of taking money or other items of value from the organization here in the district.