Friday, October 23, 2009

Embezzlement Increases at Law Firms

There are several ways that you can enjoy the income that is earned by a successful attorney or law firm. First, there is the obvious route of completing law school and passing the bar exam. Or, you could follow your mother's advice and "marry a doctor or a lawyer." Unfortunately, there is a third method that is increasingly becoming the attempted avenue for those who want to share in the profit of a law firm ... embezzlement. While perhaps not a wise move to commit a serious crime while occupying the same space as men and women who are experts in the law, employees in law offices seem to think they can get away with it. Rest assured, they cannot!!!

Here's a snapshot of embezzlement from law firms just in August 2009: Norma Blackwell, a bookkeeper from a Virginia Beach legal partnership, stole $150,000 by putting fraudulent checks in front of her boss for signing during the busiest time of the day and illegally wiring money from the firm's account to that of her husband. A law firm office manager in Sacramento, California, embezzled $1.3 million from her law firm between 2003 and 2008. She used the firm's checks to pay her personal bills and used its computer system to inflate her salary and her bonus. In another instance of bookkeeper-turned-criminal, Claire K. Thurman of Nashville wrote unauthorized checks and forged signatures in her efforts to steal more than $50,000 from the law firm for which she worked.

As I do from time to time on this blog, I would like to offer a piece of free legal advice. Whether you work for a car dealership, McDonalds, or any other place at which there is money, do not steal from your employer! This tip should be taken with even stronger consideration when the place from which your earn your paycheck is a law firm. The people there are usually (or at least should be!) sticklers for not breaking the law. However, if you find the need to write a fake check in order to pay this month's credit card bill and you get caught in the act, you will need legal representation. I imagine the attorneys in your office won't want to help you, so please contact Bertolino LLP. We have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio with criminal defense attorneys ready to help you.

No comments: