Massachusetts white collar crimes are often investigated without the target of that investigation having any idea that they have come under scrutiny. There are a number of business-related crimes that are prosecuted all the time. Often, it is that Attorney General’s Office, rather than the District Attorney’s Office that performs these investigations and resulting prosecutions. Last Wednesday, one such prosecution came to an end. It involved an alleged embezzlement in Boston’s neighbor, Stoneham.
The matter was not simply prosecuted in the local district court, however. The AG’s Office indicted Patrice M., 51, of Somerville (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) and pursued the matter in Middlesex Superior Court.
The Defendant pleaded guilty to various crimes including False Entries in Corporate Books, Forgery, and Larceny over $250 by Continuous Scheme. The allegations of theft were brought by the Defendant’s former employer, for whom she had worked as the company’s senior accountant.
The Attorney General’s Office began its investigation after the matter was referred by the Defendant’s former employer. Investigators determined that while working as the senior accountant for the Stoneham-based non-profit organization, the Defendant stole $126,000 between June, 2001, through October, 2004. This was apparently done by stealing company checks and making them payable to herself, either by forging the signatures of authorized company officers or using a signature stamp, and then depositing the checks into her personal bank account. She then made false entries on the company’s financial records to conceal the theft.
The Commonwealth presented the evidence of the Massachusetts felonies to a Middlesex Grand Jury which returned indictments against the Defendant on June 5, 2008. She was arraigned on June 26, 2008, in Middlesex Superior Court where she entered a plea of not guilty.
Following the change of plea from not guilty to guilty, Superior Court Judge Geraldine Hines sentenced the Defendant to serve five years of probation on each of the charges, with the sentences to run concurrently. Judge Hines also ordered her to pay $126,000 in restitution to her former employer.
The government, be it federal or state, takes white collar crimes very seriously. These types of prosecutions are likely to only increase given the state of the economy and the Madoff scandal.
One reason is that government agencies have come under attack because of their not recognizing frauds like Madoff until it is too late. The best way to recover from the negligence-laden image is to prosecute, prosecute, prosecute!
Of course, there are other reasons as well. For example, when times are particularly tough and people get desperate, people sometimes make errors of judgment that are criminal. People like to eat, have shelter and share same with their family.
Unfortunately, people also make good faith mistakes. This is often overlooked in these types of investigations. A mistake made today can mean a misinterpretation and resulting prosecution tomorrow.
The Defendant was not sentenced to jail in this case. This is not always the case. Often, the government seeks incarceration in these matters. This is likely to increase given the current economic and political climate.
By the way, do not take the order for restitution lightly. It is a term of the probation. Should the payments not be made, and quickly enough to satisfy probation, the probation is violated. This often means incarceration. As the Defendant was sentenced to straight probation (as opposed to an actual suspended sentence), she can be sent away for up to the maximum sentence on each count.
That’s a lot of time.
So, if you suspect you are being investigated, or have already been charged, with white collar crimes like embezzlement (which is what the Defendant’s charges amount to), take it seriously. Find an experienced attorney to advise and protect you.
The full article of this story can be found at http://www.wickedlocal.com/somerville/news/x1676801259/Somerville-woman-pleads-guilty-to-embezzlement-must-pay-126-000-in-restitution