The state of Arkansas recognizes the difference between “theft” and “embezzlement”. While embezzlement is a form of theft, it requires the theft of goods that had been placed in the care of that individual, meaning it includes a position of trust. Employees using company funds for their personal use, for instance, have embezzled money.
Because of this abuse of trust, embezzlement is considered to be more harmful to society, which is why Arkansas also classifies it as a more serious offense. When someone embezzles funds from an employer, for instance, they make it more difficult for that company to conduct its regular business, which could impact other employees, customers, and more. Additionally, most cases of embezzlement take place over a long period of time, with repeated actions, which means the consequences can also be more far-reaching and longer lasting.
In Arkansas, there is very little patience for those who have abused a position of trust, calculatingly taking assets that don’t belong to them. Prosecution is therefore incredibly aggressive in these cases as well.
Arkansas Embezzlement Laws and Penalties
Under 2010 Arkansas Code, Title 23 – Public Utilities and Regulated Industries, Subtitle 2 – Financial Institutions And Securities, Chapter 50 – Miscellaneous Violations of Banking Laws, § 23-50-105 – Embezzlement, misuse of funds, etc., by officer, director, etc., the punishment associated with embezzlement in Arkansas vary depending on the value of the stolen property. As a guideline:
- Embezzlement of property to the value of less than $1,000 is a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- Embezzlement of property to the value of between $1,000 and $5,000 is a Class D felony. The maximum sentence is six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Embezzlement of property to the value of between $5,000 and $25,000 is a Class C felony. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Embezzlement of property to the value of $25,000 and above is a Class B felony. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.
If objects rather than money were embezzled, the value of those objects is taken into consideration. If the property had sentimental or emotional value for a victim rather than a monetary value, this will also be taken into consideration. For emotional value, the charges are a Category A misdemeanor.
Someone who is convicted of embezzlement will also have a permanent criminal record. This has an impact on many facets of life, including employment, housing, professional licenses, and more. Embezzlement convictions will come up on an employment background check and will render it very difficult for someone to gain employment with any level of trust again.
Arkansas Embezzlement Defenses
Defenses against embezzlement exist. The first line of defense would be to prove that no money or property was taken at all. If the charges are indeed false, then a lawyer should be able to raise at least reasonable doubt. Alternatively, it could be demonstrated that the individual was legally entitled to take the money. The prosecution has to be able to demonstrate that the embezzlement took place for personal gain rather than legitimate business purposes.
Many lawyers will also try to demonstrate that insufficient evidence has been collected, thereby casting reasonable doubt. Sometimes, they may also suggest that absence of intent to commit embezzlement means that the defendant cannot be found guilty. However, being able to prove a defendant was genuinely not aware of the fact that they didn’t own the property is very difficult to demonstrate.
Duress is a final line of defense that some lawyers will use in cases of embezzlement. In these cases, however, it must be demonstrated that the defendant genuinely believe that, had they not embezzled the property, their family or themselves would have come to serious harm. However, this defense does always mean implicating a third party.
Arkansas Embezzlement Statute of Limitations
In the state of Arkansas, the statute of limitations varies depending on the severity of the crime. Under code section 5-1-109, misdemeanors carry a one year statute of limitations. Class D, C, and B felonies carry a three year statute of limitations. The exception is if the embezzlement took place in a public office, in which case it can be extended to five years or a maximum extension of 10 years. Additionally, the statute of limitations is tolled if the defendant is continuously absent from the state.
Arkansas Embezzlement Cases
- Eddie Cooper, ex-Arkansas legislator, pleads guilty on embezzlement charges. Eddie Cooper is alleged to have received more than $387,501 through a lobbyist and at least $63,000 in kickbacks for taking part in a scheme that embezzled over $4 million from a health care charity, Preferred Family Healthcare, in Springfield, Mo. He must forfeit any gains made through the conspiracy to the government.
- Roach Manufacturing Corporation files embezzlement charges against accounting firm employee. According to Roach Manufacturing Corporation, a Poinsett County company, an accounting firm employee responsible for the tax matters and bookkeeping of the company embezzled $4.5 million over the course of 10 years. The suit is against Edward M Cooper Jr. and Osborn & Osborn, CPAs, PLLC, who had represented Roach Manufacturing Corporation for two decades. The company trusted and relief on Cooper, who allegedly took advantage of this, starting embezzling funds in 2007.
- Woman accused of embezzling $20,000+ from school in North Arkansas. A woman in Boone County has been arrested on charges of embezzling over $20,000 from the Bergman School Booster Club. Allison Hartoonian, a 28 year old woman from Harrison, is now facing felony charges. She was in charge of concessions but the account of the Booster Club was insufficient and an investigation commenced. Following an audit, it appeared over $20,000 was not accounted for, which happened during the six month period in which Hartoonian was responsible for it. If found guilty, she could face up to 10 years in prison.
- Arkansas official faces Medicaid fraud charges. Robin Raveendran, a 62 year old male, has been charged with two counts of Medicaid fraud by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. He is said to have defrauded the program by some $2.2 million. He is alleged to have played a role in the aforementioned embezzlement case involving Eddie Cooper and Preferred Family Healthcare.
- Ex-Framington official convicted of embezzlement and fraud. James Lewis Story, a 57 year old man from Farmington and the city’s former finance director and court clerk has been sentenced for embezzlement and fraud, He will spend 46 months in federal prison with three years supervised release, and will have to repay $1,282,966 to the city as well as $371,956 to the IRS.