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Firefighter sentenced in toy-drive embezzlement case

A California woman was sentenced to three years of probation on March 12, 2018. The 54-year-old former firefighter from San Bruno, was found guilty of embezzlement for taking money from fire department bank account that was used to host its annual toy drive. San Mateo County prosecutors said that the woman stole $25,583 from the account during a period of time ranging from January 2015 through October 2016. While the woman reportedly claimed that she had done so in anger at mistreatment she faced as a woman in the firehouse, prosecutors said that they did not believe this account of her motivation. They said that no evidence was presented that she was mistreated and that, even if true, it was not a defense to embezzlement charges.

While the woman was initially charged with felony embezzlement, the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor after her defense lawyer showed that she had paid restitution to replace the missing funds. In addition to the probation time, she was also sentenced to 300 hours of community service. She must complete this work with victims of fires in Sonoma County before September 2019.

Embezzlement charges can be prosecuted locally, as they were in this case. However, whenever the property or funds can be connected to interstate commerce, however broadly, embezzlement can be pursued as a federal offense. When people think of embezzlement, they commonly think of a situation in which a person takes money from their workplace; however, other circumstances can also lead to these kinds of criminal charges.

People who are facing federal or state embezzlement charges or allegations of misappropriating funds can work with a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney may be able to provide strong representation in court, including challenging evidence presented by the prosecution.

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