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Ingham County Prosecutor reports spike in embezzlement cases

Embezzlement remains a relatively rare charge in Ingham County, but it appears that county prosecutors are finding more of it these days. Criminal cases involving allegations of embezzlement went up more than 50 percent last year, according to the Lansing State Journal.

The paper reports that there were 53 embezzlement cases in Ingham County in 2014. That may not sound like much, but the county prosecuted just 35 such cases in 2013, an increase of about 51 percent. It was the most number of cases involving embezzlement charges in the county since at least 2011, the paper says.

Whether this is random year-on-year fluctuation, or somehow a trend, is not clear. Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said that more cases involving more than $1,000, which he calls “serious embezzlements,” have been crossing his desk lately. In 2013 and 2014, four cases involved alleged embezzlement of $100,000 or more.

Prosecutors often have two goals when charging a person with embezzlement: send the defendant to prison and have him or her pay the lost money to the business or organization. However, a first conviction for someone without a prior criminal record may not result in prison time. Often, this leads to negotiations between the prosecution and the defendant, in which authorities may offer a shorter sentence or other concessions in exchange for a guilty plea.

Such negotiations should never take place without the presence of a defense attorney. Few defendants have the legal expertise and experience necessary to act as their own legal counsel.

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