When people think of embezzlement, they often associate it with schemes that steal millions of dollars, but those aren’t the only the high-profile embezzlement cases that make the news. In January 2020, the Colorado Sun reported the sentencing of an embezzlement case where the defendant was sentenced to six years in prison for pleading guilty for theft between $100,000 and $1 million.
In the grand scheme of things that may not seem like a huge amount of money, but it does show how seriously Colorado officials take embezzlement and should serve as a warning to anyone that all levels of embezzlement will be prosecuted and punished in the state.
What Does Colorado Consider Embezzlement?
The basis for embezzlement crimes in the state of Colorado is the theft of money or property by someone who is entrusted to take care of the money or property. It can mean misappropriation of funds of both large and small amounts of money all at once or over a period of time.
The person responsible for the embezzlement usually takes pains to cover-up their crimes, such as moving money from one bank to another, creating fake invoices for work or items, or even creating fake bank accounts.
How Does Embezzlement Differ From Theft in Colorado?
You may be wondering if embezzlement is actually theft. Well, in the eyes of the law they are different crimes. Embezzlement differs from theft in a few ways, including:
- Intent – The taking of money or property was something done intentionally. Even if the person responsible for the embezzlement returns what was taken, a crime has still been committed.
- Relationship – Often people that embezzle money or property are in a position to do so because they are trusted. This is known as a fiduciary relationship.
- Ownership – The person guilty of embezzlement assumed ownership of the money or property or transferred it to someone else.
- Property of Trust – Because the person responsible for the embezzlement was in a position of trust, they were able to take the property
Penalties for CO Embezzlement
The punishment in Colorado for embezzlement depends on the amount of property or money taken, the nature of the duplicity of trust, how long it was taking place, why it was taken, and the defendant’s criminal history. You can find a complete list of punishments here.
Common Types of Embezzlement in Colorado
There are a variety of ways someone can commit embezzlement, but there tend to be a few main types that are perpetrated. They include:
This is committed when someone uses the payroll of a company to illegally take money. If someone in a position of trust within a company to handle finances steals money this way, then they may try to pay ghost employees or add someone in their family to their payroll in order to draw an income only to cash the paychecks for themselves.
When someone works at the point of sale in a restaurant or store and pocket money without creating any discrepancies in cash, then this is called siphoning. Often, this type of embezzlement is done by an employee not entering an item into a computer or register but keeping track of what they will take from the drawer at the end of their shift.
When someone in a position to purchase activities for an organization takes money directly from a vendor and keep some portion of it in an agreement with the vendor, then that’s called a kickback.
It’s important to understand that it’s not simply the high-dollar embezzlement crimes that are prosecuted in Colorado, so be careful that you’re staying within the confines of the law when dealing with money or property.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.