Joseph L., 43, of Derry, New Hampshire, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) was once a happy and successful man. A father of five, he built himself up from obscurity in Brockton to the purchasing director for North Andover, Massachusetts. Now, divorced and placed on leave, he is in need of a criminal defense attorney. A court-appointed defense attorney, in fact.
The week began with his turning himself in to North Andover police upon learning that there were warrants out for his arrest.
According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant is guilty of embezzlement. Specifically, the prosecution says that, during his two years as the town’s purchasing agent, he only performed one half of his job correctly. They say he sold surplus town vehicles and snow plows on eBay (the half he was supposed to do) but that he pocketed the money himself (the half he was not supposed to do).
One must wonder how much such augmentation to his salary helped given that the court determined that he qualified for a court appointed attorney, meaning that he was without the funds to afford his own.
He has been released on his own recognizance (no bail), but has been ordered by the court not to use a computer.
Embezzlement is a white collar crime. It is a larceny (theft) which, results from misappropriating funds entrusted to an individual for personal gain. Usually, as in this case, it is for economic gain. In this case, the Defendant is also charged with larceny over $250, which is a felony.
It is interesting to note that the Defendant qualified for a court – appointed attorney. In order to so qualify, he has to be found to be indigent by the court and the probation department.
Whether or not the Defendant actually stays with the appointed lawyer, this may well lead to an argument on behalf of the defense that he really was not guilty because he clearly had not profited from his position.
On the other hand, being divorced with three children probably was no aid to his finances either.
“Sam – what is up with his not being allowed to use the computer?”
Often, this is ordered by the court as a condition of release because it has something to do with the crime. In cases of child pornography, it is because the defendant is said to have used the computer to access material. In this case, it is because he accused of using the computer to commit his crimes. In fact, a defendant’s computer is often siezed as evidence in such cases.
I have seen many clients who come to me with circumstances similar to this. Some indicate they are guilty, some indicate that they are not and that a mistake has been made. There is one thing they all have in common. They are shocked that they are now in the starring role of a criminal prosecution.
Prosecutions like these, be they in federal or state court, are usually the result of a long and expensive investigation on the part of the government. Usually, the suspect is not made aware of the investigation until it is nearing its end. This is the time that law enforcement contacts the suspect and invites them to make a statement of some sort to give “us your side of the story.” “Your side of the story” translates to “Let’s lock you into a statement that we can use against you at trial”.
Dealing with these investigations as a suspect, or potential suspect, is foolhardy. Gone are the days when these cases simply bring about a “slap on the wrist and a wink of an eye”. They often bring jail time. Sensitivity to such cases has only risen in this post-Madoff era.
If you believe that there is an investigation going on in which you could potentially be charged with a crime, whether or not you believe yourself to be guilty, it is important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. You may be the smartest person the Earth has yet to produce…but if you do not have the background experience of dealing with these investigations, you are only fooling yourself and placing yourself into a dangerous situation.
Of course, if you are the smartest person the Earth has yet to produce…you probably know that already.
For the full articles upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1212505 and http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/News/StateNewEngland/439348-227/mass.-town-employee-charged-with-larceny.html