Many crimes that are committed in the state of Michigan often result in serious punishments being given which might include having to serve time in jail, having to pay steep fines, and even having to spend a period of time on probation. But, when it comes to embezzlement, it seems as though this crime carries less severe punishments than most, even if it was hundreds of thousands of dollars that was stolen. The Lansing State Journal is saying that in the state of Michigan, although embezzlement seems to be occurring frequently, offenders rarely pay back all the money they actually took. Let’s look at the case involving the longtime accountant who worked at the Impression 5 Science Center located in Lansing.

Paul Huggins, who was the named offender, allegedly stole nearly $162,000 from the center’s chemistry lab. Each time a child would come to the lab to make slime, they would pay a buck or two in cash and then the instructor would complete an accounting slip and drop the cash into a lockbox. Huggins, whose job was to deposit the money into the bank, failed to do so and instead, was keeping it for himself. Over a period of a decade, he managed to rack up $162,000. After Huggins was caught, he was ordered to repay the money and only spent a year in jail. After nearly 20 years, he has only repaid $17,000, which equates to about 10% of what he owes to the science center.

The source also highlighted that “state statistics show embezzlers are treated differently in the court system than violent offenders.” Those who are “convicted of embezzling $50,000 or more often get probation or significantly less time behind bars than their violent counterparts.” The fact is, many victims who are owed restitution rarely receive the amount that was initially taken from them over a short period of time. Iron County Prosecutor, Melissa Powell, told the source that “restitution is something that’s been bothering her for years.” She stated that in her county alone, the amount owed for restitution was over $ 1 million and two other counties had totals of $23 million and $50 million. And that only accounts for three counties in the state of Michigan. She said that the total amount owed in restitution for the entire state has to be close to $1 billion or more.

It is very seldom that offenders involved in major embezzlement cases are sentenced based on the original charge that was filed against them. Most accept a plea deal, “especially because the amount of restitution owed to the victim is determined with a lower burden of proof than criminal convictions.” But that brings up an important point and that is, when charged with a criminal offense, whether it is for embezzlement or something else, you may be able to get your penalties reduced by accepting a plea deal.

A plea deal is an agreement that is made between the prosecutor and the defendant where the defendant agrees to plead guilty and receives some sort of reduction in return.

Are you facing a criminal charge of your own?

If you have been charged with any type of crime in Lansing, East Lansing, or even Okemos, criminal defense lawyer Stuart R. Shafer, P.C. is ready to represent you. Not only will he be able to guide you and provide you with advice throughout the duration of your case, but he will also help you secure a favorable outcome. This might include getting you a reduction in charges which will also reduce your penalties.

If you would like to get an initial consultation scheduled where we can discuss your case in further detail, call our firm today at 517-487-6603.

You can always reach the Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer, P.C. at:

1223 Turner Street, #333

Lansing, Michigan 48906