In many cases, embezzlement is classified as a federal offense. However, that does not mean states do not have their own statutes to deal with it and Illinois is no exception. In this state, someone who is entrusted with property for safekeeping but then uses it for themselves is guilty of embezzlement. It is not the same as theft, therefore, as in a theft case someone took something from another without first having been entrusted with it.
The crime is classed as a white collar crime and one that judges do not look favorable upon. Long prison sentences, hefty fines, and restitution are often ordered. Additionally, depending on the circumstances, the defendant may also face federal charges for the crime. It is generally conducted by people in business, where individuals are entrusted with merchandise, cash, or credit cards.
One of the key separations that Illinois laws implements is that property taken in embezzlement cases can be either tangible or intangible. In the first case, the property refers to things such as cars, equipment, jewelry, or supplies. In the latter case, it is in relation to money, billing schemes, bonds, stocks, and other such property.
Illinois Embezzlement Laws and Penalties
Under Illinois Statutes Chapter 720. Criminal Offenses § 5/16-1. Theft, what charges and penalties someone will face depends on the property’s value. Typically, it is classified as a felony but may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the value is below $500. In all other cases, charges are:
- Embezzlement of property valued between $501 and $10,000 is a Class 3 felony, leading to two to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
- Embezzlement of property valued between $10,001 and $100,000 is a Class 2 felony, leading to three to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
- Embezzlement of property valued between $100,001 and $500,000 is a Class 1 felony, leading to six to 30 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
- Embezzlement of property valued between $500,001 and $999,999 is a Class 1 non-probational felony, leading to four to 15 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
- Embezzlement of property valued above $1 million is a Class X felony, leading to six to 30 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
That said, the crime of embezzlement is incredibly complex in Illinois and there are numerous factors that can lead to harsher sentences. If the victim is a place of worship, someone over the age of 60, a government entity, or a school, for instance, charges tend to be harsher. More specifically, the crime of Theft by Deception is one in which at least $5,000 was taken from an individual over the age of 60, which is a Class 2 felony, leading to three to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
Illinois Embezzlement Defenses
In order for an embezzlement charge to be proven, the prosecution must demonstrate that:
- The embezzler and their victim had a fiduciary relationship.
- The embezzler was able to acquire tangible or intangible property through this relationship.
- The embezzler uses the property or transfers it to someone else for their personal gain.
- The embezzler did so knowingly and wittingly.
A defense attorney will try to cast reasonable doubt on each of those points.
Illinois Embezzlement Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in Illinois ensures that evidence and testimonies always remain relevant and can be used to make judicial decisions. As such, it is in place to protect the defendant. This is covered under Statute 720 ILCS 5/16-1 for embezzlement (theft) cases. It states that the statute is three years, although the value of the property and the circumstances of the crime may extend this to seven years. Additionally, the statute of limitations can be tolled if the individual was out of state or otherwise incapable of standing trial.
Illinois Embezzlement Cases
- A woman from Oak Brook embezzled millions from a law firm in Chicago. 63 year old Oak Brook woman, Deborah Acuna, was the fourth suburban resident to have appeared in court over a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme targeting a local law firm. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in county jail, 18 months probation, and $175,000 restitutions.
- Research finds small communities to be more likely locations for embezzlement. Various small communities have fallen victim to embezzlement cases across Illinois. Mercer County, for instance, has had numerous cases against it. Research has now shown that smaller communities are indeed more likely to see embezzlement cases than larger cities. It is believed that this is due to the presence of many smaller organizations that do not keep appropriate internal records.
- IT investor pays short of half a million for looking the other way. An IT investor has had to pay $456,000 for looking the other way while the consultancy company he invested in engaged a in million-dollar embezzlement scheme. Bhusan Dandawate faced SEC charges for helping Quadrant 4 embezzle around $4.1 million between 2015 and 2016. While Dandawate was not accused of embezzlement, he has reached a deal with the SEC to repay money, pay a civil penalty, and not serve as director or officer in public traded companies again.
- Ex-city treasurer from Southern Illinois pleads guilty to $321,000 embezzlement. 44 year old man from Ziegler, Ryan Thorpe, has pleaded guilty to embezzling over $321,000 from the local government.
- Illinois’ wildest embezzlement case revisited. Rita Crundwell is responsible for what is known as the most interesting embezzlement case ever seen in the state. In 2012, she was able to embezzle $53 million from the town of Dixon, IL, the largest U.S. municipal fraud case ever. The story riveted the masses and continues to play on people’s minds. She has been sentenced to 20 years but is often moved between prisons.