In Louisiana, embezzlement is treated as theft. However, it is different from burglary or robbery because the defendant in an embezzlement case was entrusted with the property that they misappropriated. This means that they were legally entitled to access the property, but not to use it for their own personal gain. In many cases, embezzlement is prosecuted at federal rather than state level, because federal entities are often the victim of it. Alternatively, it is because the property may belong to a local victim but was paid for through a government contract.
Louisiana Embezzlement Laws and Penalties
Under LA Rev Stat § 14:67, the possible sentencing for an embezzlement charge is down to the value of the property and the prior history of the defendant. While a white collar crime, the penalties follow the sentencing guidelines outlined for theft, with embezzlement being classed as “theft by misappropriation without violence”. Under those rules, the penalties are:
- Property to a value above $1,500 leads to a prison sentence, with or without hard labor, of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
- Property to a value of between $500 and $1,500 leads to a prison sentence, with or without hard labor, of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Property to a value of less than $500 leads to a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For third or subsequent offenders, the prison sentence increases to up to two years, with or without hard labor, and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
If there have been multiple counts of misappropriation, the values of each individual item will be added up to determine the grade of the offense. Previous convictions can also lead to lengthier sentences.
Louisiana Embezzlement Defenses
Anyone who faces embezzlement charges in Louisiana should seek legal representation. The lawyer will determine whether sufficient evidence has been presented to prove the crime took place or that the defendant had involvement in it. Additionally, they will often try to demonstrate that there is a lack of intent to commit the crime. They may also demonstrate that the crime was committed under duress.
Louisiana Embezzlement Statute of Limitations
Louisiana does not have a statute of limitations. Rather, they have a “prescriptive period”. For a felony theft offense, that prescriptive period is four years.
Louisiana Embezzlement Cases
- Ex-office manager from Louisiana pleads guilty on embezzlement charges. Belinda Miltenberger, a 47 year old woman from Cameron, has pleaded guilty to embezzling $91,000 from her employer. She is alleged to have stolen cash from seafood sales, keeping cash for herself and falsifying records. She could face up to 20 years imprisonment, a supervise release of five years, and $250,000 in fines.
- James Bertrand, local business owner, reports suspected embezzlement. James Bertrand owns a business in Lafayette. As a Ville Platte bondsman, he has suspected embezzlement from his business but claims law enforcement will not review the matter. He believes one of his employees embezzled as much as $600,000. A third party audit confirmed this had happened. Unfortunately, there seems to be lack of clarity in terms of which police department should be responsible for the investigation.
- Tribal woman accused of robbing one of her own. 38 year old Destiny Adelaide Nelson has admitted to stealing from the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians, a tribe to which she herself belongs. She took $83,226, which she has agreed to pay back. She claims that she took the money to feed her gambling and drug addiction. She has admitted to two felon counts of embezzlement. Nelson has a long history of drug and alcohol use, for which she has been in treatment several times. She wrote at least 190 checks made out to herself, continuing to do so up to the day that she was fired. When arrested, she immediately agreed to have created the fraudulent checks and she has stated that she hopes this will give her a chance to improve her life. She will serve formal probation for free years and will have to pay full restitution to her tribe.
- Employee from Louisiana Tec accused of embezzling $15,000. Tracey Hoyle, a 45 year old from Ruston, has been accused of embezzling $15,000 from the Louisiana Tech University, who had noticed money missing from their School of Communication budget. Hoyle performed bookkeeping duties here and is alleged to have misappropriated funds for one and a half years. She has been arrested and charged with Theft of Property for over $5,000.
- Three women accused of embezzling money from pancake palace. Three women have been accused of embezzling money from the French Quarter’s IHOP pancake palace. The women are alleged to have systematically stolen money from the restaurant over a six month period, totaling in excess of $5,100. The three women, Brandi Brown, Meikee Bush, and Raushawn Ford, are currently at large and wanted by the police.