For some reason, Attorney Sam’s Take has not discussed theft crimes at the workplace all that much. It happens, though, more than you might think. The crimes can be charged as larceny or embezzlement, among other things. These are white collar crimes that are increasingly ending up in incarceration…despite (usually) the lack of a criminal record.

Let’s turn our attention to Northampton, MA. There we see 21-year-old Cody Collier Slavis of Huntington and 22-year-old Roberto Roldan of Palmer (hereinafter, collectively, the “Defendants”).

The Defendants are two former employees of a local Walmart and have been accused of stealing and reselling more than $9,000 worth of merchandise from the store. They are said to have sold much of the merchandise on Craigslist and other outlets that resell used electronics.

Last week, the Defendants pleaded not guilty to larceny charges and were released on personal recognizance.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Criminal Investigations Into Thefts At The Workplace

There was a day when these types of cases were handled between the parties. Not any more…nor should they be. They are real crimes. They are also crimes that often take a great deal of investigation and preparation in order to bring charges. Such investigations are often handled by the Attorney General’s Office or one of various federal agencies.

The fact that the Defendants allegedly re-sold the items instead of keeping them is certainly not a mitigating factor. Likely, particularly if the case gets handled in federal court, such maneuvering will be an aggravating factor. It shows more planning to do the crime…which garners negative points in the sentencing guidelines. Also, the money received for the sales is likely to be confiscated and, of course, restitution will be the part of any sentence.

But, let’s look beyond that. What is the reality for a suspect in such cases…guilty or innocent?

Well, as I mentioned, these cases can often be quite complicated in terms of the investigation. It will often come down to paperwork and assumptions. Often, of course, some kind of admission results from the sudden interview with employers.

It is important to note that employers are not law enforcement. Therefore, any statements given to them will not be subject to a motion to suppress except in rare instances. Employers do not have to do such things as tell you that you are a suspect or read you the Miranda rights.

In reality, they need only threaten your job…and even at that there is no requirement for them to be honest about it.

These types of cases can also bring with them either an over-reliance on bald assumption or even other negative human attributes such as greed, revenge or an attempt to shine the light of guilt on someone other than the guilty party.

When such an issue comes up, I find that many people try to “go it alone” and think that they will be able to explain, or fool, their supervisors and employers and convince them not to call law enforcement. Some people figure that they have always had a good relationship with their employer and so will be given the benefit of the doubt.

This approach is seldom successful. First of all, the days in which that wonderful relationship existed have usually come to an end by the point of the investigation. It ended when the employer decided that the employee was stealing from the company. Further, there are often levels of supervisors who are overseeing each level below them which are involved in the investigation.

I find that most people prefer to fire a beloved employee than to lose their own jobs.

Of course, the company investigation is only the first investigation which a suspect faces. Next inevitably comes law enforcement.

We have discussed their tactics many times before. Of course, much of their job is often done for them before they come along. They simply have to accept what the company tells them as to guilt and innocence.

If it sounds like the deck is stacked against you once you become a suspect in one of these cases…it is because it is.

Going it alone is a big mistake. Even though you may not (yet) have been charged of a crime by the police, the best approach is to retain experienced criminal defense counsel to guide and protect you. In most of the cases I have seen, the failure to do so results in a much worse situation for the suspect.

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