Connecticut Embezzlement Charges & Penalties

Embezzlement in Connecticut involves the illegal appropriation of funds or property by someone who has been entrusted with their management. This white-collar crime is taken seriously in the state due to its potential to erode public trust and cause significant financial damage. Connecticut has stringent laws and penalties designed to deter and punish embezzlement, ensuring the protection of fiduciary relationships and public resources.

Embezzlement can occur in various settings, including businesses, financial institutions, and personal relationships. Examples include a company officer misappropriating company funds, a bank employee stealing client money, or a caregiver embezzling funds from a dependent.

Four Factors Required for a Connecticut Embezzlement Conviction

For an embezzlement conviction in Connecticut, four elements must be established:

Fiduciary Relationship

There must be a fiduciary relationship between the accused and the victim, where the victim relied on the accused to manage their funds or property. This relationship can exist between employers and employees, financial advisors and clients, or caregivers and dependents.

Transfer of Property

The accused must have obtained the property through this fiduciary relationship and transferred the funds to themselves or a third party. Mere access to the funds is insufficient; there must be evidence of unauthorized transfer for personal use.

Intentional Actions

The actions of the accused must be intentional. If the transfer of funds was a mistake and can be proven as such, it is unlikely to constitute embezzlement.

Unauthorized Use

The use of the property must be unauthorized and for personal gain. The prosecution must prove that the accused intended to benefit personally from the misappropriated funds or property.

Connecticut Laws and Penalties

Embezzlement in Connecticut is prosecuted under the state’s theft statutes, which are codified in the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 53a-119. The penalties for embezzlement depend on the value of the property stolen and can range from misdemeanors to serious felonies.

Felony Embezzlement

Larceny in the First Degree (CGS § 53a-122): Embezzlement of property or money valued at over $20,000 is classified as larceny in the first degree, a Class B felony. Penalties include a prison sentence of up to 20 years and fines up to $15,000.

Larceny in the Second Degree (CGS § 53a-123): Embezzlement involving property valued between $10,000 and $20,000 is classified as larceny in the second degree, a Class C felony. Penalties include a prison sentence of up to 10 years and fines up to $10,000.

Larceny in the Third Degree (CGS § 53a-124): Embezzlement involving property valued between $2,000 and $10,000 is classified as larceny in the third degree, a Class D felony. Penalties include a prison sentence of up to 5 years and fines up to $5,000.

Misdemeanor Embezzlement

Larceny in the Fourth Degree (CGS § 53a-125): Embezzlement of property valued between $1,000 and $2,000 is classified as larceny in the fourth degree, a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties include up to 1 year in a county jail and fines up to $2,000.

Larceny in the Fifth Degree (CGS § 53a-125a): Embezzlement of property valued between $500 and $1,000 is classified as larceny in the fifth degree, a Class B misdemeanor. Penalties include up to 6 months in a county jail and fines up to $1,000.

Larceny in the Sixth Degree (CGS § 53a-125b): Embezzlement of property valued under $500 is classified as larceny in the sixth degree, a Class C misdemeanor. Penalties include up to 3 months in a county jail and fines up to $500.

Connecticut Embezzlement Penalties

As in most states, an embezzlement conviction in Connecticut results in fines and imprisonment. The severity of the punishment is directly related to the value of the stolen property or funds. Embezzlement involving government funds or property is punished more harshly to protect public resources.

Embezzlement Defenses

Embezzlement charges in Connecticut are serious, but several effective defenses can be employed to fight them. Below are some common and effective embezzlement defenses:

Lack of Intent

Demonstrating that the transfer of funds was a mistake or done for legitimate reasons can be a strong defense. If the accused can prove there was no intent to misappropriate the funds for personal gain, the charges may be dismissed.

Insufficient Evidence

If there is not enough evidence to prove embezzlement beyond a reasonable doubt, this can be a very strong defense. The defense attorney will attempt to show reasonable doubt regarding various aspects of the charges.

Ownership Claim

Demonstrating that the accused believed they were the rightful owner of the funds or property can be a defense. If it can be proven that the accused had a legitimate claim to the money, the charges might be dropped.

Duress

If the accused was forced to take the money due to threats or harm to themselves or a loved one, they might be able to show they acted under duress. However, this defense is complex and must prove that the threats were direct and immediate.

Entrapment

If the accused was induced by law enforcement to commit the crime that they otherwise would not have committed, entrapment can be used as a defense.

An effective defense attorney can use these defenses in various ways, such as showing bank statements indicating no link between business debits and personal accounts or demonstrating that other individuals had access to the funds in question. If the defense can create enough doubt regarding the accused’s responsibility for the missing funds, it may be impossible to convict them.

If the attorney cannot get the case dismissed, they may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for a reduced sentence. The attorney may convince the judge that the accused will pay restitution for any missing funds, which could result in avoiding jail time and incurring additional fines. Occasionally, charges may be dropped if restitution is paid.

Statute of Limitations on Connecticut Embezzlement

In Connecticut, the statute of limitations for embezzlement is typically five years from when the crime occurred. However, if the crime involves public funds or officials, the statute of limitations may be extended. The Discovery Rule in Connecticut allows for the filing of a suit up to five years from the date the crime was discovered if it was not discovered immediately.

Recent Connecticut Embezzlement Cases

Hartford Accountant Sentenced for Embezzling $1.5 Million

An accountant in Hartford was sentenced to 5 years in prison for embezzling $1.5 million from her clients. The funds were used for personal expenses, including luxury vacations and high-end purchases.

Connecticut State Employee Arrested for Embezzling Public Funds

A state employee was arrested for embezzling $450,000 from public funds. The embezzlement was discovered during an audit, leading to charges and a potential lengthy prison sentence.

Nonprofit Executive Director Charged with Embezzlement

The executive director of a nonprofit organization in New Haven was charged with embezzling $300,000 in donations. The funds were allegedly used for personal gain, including paying off personal debts.

Financial Advisor Arrested for Embezzling Client Funds

A financial advisor in Stamford was arrested for embezzling $400,000 from clients. The advisor allegedly diverted client investments into his personal accounts and used the money for personal expenses, including luxury goods and real estate.

Bank Manager Convicted for Embezzling $600,000

A bank manager in Bridgeport was convicted for embezzling $600,000 from the bank’s accounts over several years. The manager used the stolen funds to finance a lavish lifestyle.

Small Business Owner Sentenced for Embezzling Payroll Funds

A small business owner in Waterbury was sentenced to 3 years in prison for embezzling $250,000 in payroll funds. The funds were used for personal expenses, and the owner manipulated the company’s accounting records to conceal the thefts.

Top Cities in Connecticut for Embezzlement Charges

  • Hartford
  • New Haven
  • Stamford
  • Bridgeport
  • Waterbury
  • Norwalk
  • Danbury
  • New Britain
  • Bristol
  • Meriden

References

Connecticut General Statutes (CGS). (n.d.). Retrieved from Connecticut General Assembly

Connecticut Embezzlement Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from FindLaw

This article provides a comprehensive overview of Connecticut’s embezzlement laws, the penalties for violations, common defenses, and recent cases, highlighting the state’s rigorous approach to curbing financial misconduct and maintaining public trust.