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$4,000 embezzlement could cost state employee much more

When we think of our Michigan taxpayer dollars hard at work, we probably don't think that we're paying someone's cable bill or moving expenses. And yet that may be what happened.

A Michigan Department of Human Services employee is facing two felony charges due to her alleged misuse of her state procurement credit cards. More than $4,000 in unapproved expenditures, considered embezzlement, could cost a 43-year-old Lansing woman up to 10 years in prison -- five years for each felony.

When a so-called white collar crime is charged, it is typically after a lengthy investigation has been conducted and the prosecution believes that enough evidence has been collected. In this particular case, an investigation of the 43-year-old DHS employee's credit cards between Sept. 2009 and June 2011. The alleged unauthorized expenses came to a total of $4,415.48 and included charges from Playtime Billiards, Inc., Verizon Wireless, Comcast and Two Men and a Truck among others.

It was not stated whether or not these charges were reimbursed by the woman at a later date.

DHS conducted the investigation and the charges were brought by the Michigan Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit. The Public Integrity Unit was created in 2011 for these types of cases and has filed 177 charges against 30 defendants since its inception.

As in any criminal case, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. When embezzlement or a credit card fraud charge is filed, the evidence will be critical, as there are often no witnesses to this type of crime. If any of the evidence was obtained not according to procedures it may be disallowed. With so many years in prison at stake, any opportunity to disallow evidence will certainly be examined.

If you're facing charges that could result in jail time, it is imperative that you retain an experienced defense attorney who can protect your interests and present a solid defense.

Source: mlive.com, "Michigan Department of Human Services employee faces 2 felony charges for alleged personal use of government spending account," Brandon Howell, June 22, 2012

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