If an individual is found guilty, an accusation of embezzling funds from an organization in California may result in a felony conviction with a punishment of incarceration of up to three years for each count. In one such multiple count indictment, the Orange County Register reported on the case of a man who was convicted of taking more than $87,000 from a youth sports league and received a sentence of six months in jail. His punishment also included five years of supervised probation and he was required to repay the sports league $87,517.97 in restitution.
The 43-year-old Orange County resident was previously responsible for managing the finances of the Tijeras Creek Little League. A successor noticed that money appeared to be missing during a timeframe beginning January 2014 and ending in September 2017. When this suspicion resulted in criminal charges, the former treasurer admitted to transferring the league’s funds to his personal account. He pleaded guilty to 18 counts of felony embezzlement. This plea could have resulted in the maximum punishment of 15 years in jail due to the number of counts. The convicted embezzler’s sentence of only six months in jail represents California’s statutory minimum punishment for the offenses the defendant admitted to.
Because a fiduciary duty of care is established when an organization entrusts a person with managing their money, property or other resources, a trustee is held to a higher standard. When an individual is suspected of deviating from their expectations, the betrayal of trust may result in a filing of criminal charges.
The Nonprofits Insurance Alliance offers some tips on how volunteer treasurers may manage key responsibilities to further their organization’s mission. While not every accusation of embezzlement leads to a criminal conviction, establishing positive work habits for organization treasurers helps to prevent mistakes and avoid potential legal issues.