When a prominent citizen who has lived an exemplary life finds themselves accused of a serious crime, they can feel confused and fearful. Even if the accusation is false, the mere fact that one was charged with a crime like theft can have far reaching consequences and tarnish a person’s reputation for good. An official of a Broward County political party may be worried about these ramifications right now, as he faces theft charges based on accusations he embezzled money from a fund for which he was responsible.

The man was the treasurer of the local Democratic Party’s Council of Club Presidents, an organization of leaders of several Democratic Party clubs and organizations. The man is accused of misusing funds belonging to the Council by writing checks to himself and a relative. The amount of money at issue is just over $2,000.

Several prominent citizens have come to the man’s defense, and at least one has suggested that the prosecution is politically motivated. Significantly, the man had repaid the money before police were called or charges were brought.

Theft by fraud is a serious charge and a person facing these accusations needs to mount an aggressive defense. It is important to remember that the prosecution in any criminal case must prove that the accused acted with criminal intent, and it is possible that the accused had an honest belief that he or she had permission to use the money. It is also not unheard of for a disgruntled employee – or someone with a political axe to grind – to make a false accusation. Finally, in cases like this the prosecution often relies on financial records to prove its case, and these may be incomplete, inaccurate, or subject to interpretation. As in all criminal cases, reasonable doubt should lead to an acquittal.

Source: South Florida Times, “Dems official charged with stealing funds,” Elgin Jones, Aug. 30, 2012

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