Recently a South Jersey woman was federally indicted for wire fraud. Tracey Moses of Sicklerville New Jersey was indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office for writing unauthorized electronic checks to herself from the unidentified company’s bank accounts. In addition to these actions, Tracey Moses was also accused of obtaining unemployment benefits while she was working at her market planning and research firm in Philadelphia. In total, she was indicted for embezzling nearly $117,000. This blog post will explore embezzlement charges and the possible penalties. Have you been accused of embezzlement or of fraud? Contact an Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer.

New Jersey Embezzlement Laws

It is important to note from the outset that New Jersey does not have a specific law entitled embezzlement. Instead, the New Jersey statutes use the term theft as opposed to embezzlement or larceny.

Under New Jersey 2C:20-3a, which reads in its pertinent part as follows:

A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises control over movable property of another with purpose to deprive him thereof.

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Additionally, New Jersey has codified a number of specific theft offenses:

• Theft by deception (§ 2C:20-4)
• Theft by extortion (§ 2C:20-5)
• Theft of lost property, or property that has been delivered by mistake (§ 2C:20-6)
• Receiving stolen property (§ 2C:20-7)
• Theft of services (§ 2C:20-8)
• Shoplifting (§ 2C:20-11)

New Jersey classifies most theft offenses according to the value of the property involved in the offense and has codified theft in the following degrees:

Theft as a Disorderly Persons Offense – Theft constitutes a “disorderly persons offense” in New Jersey if the value of the property or services involved in the theft is less than $200. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-2(b)(4), § 2C:20-3.) Some jurisdictions, such as Pennsylvania, would consider this a misdemeanor of the third or second degree.

Theft as a Crime of the Fourth Degree. Theft constitutes a “crime of the fourth degree” in New Jersey if the value of the property or services involved is at least $200 but not more than $500. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-2(b)(3), § 2C:20-3.)

Theft as a Crime of the Third Degree. Theft constitutes a “crime of the third degree” in New Jersey if:

• The value of the property or services involved is more than $500 but less than $75,000
• The stolen property is a firearm, motor vehicle, vessel, boat, horse, domestic companion animal or airplane
• The property is a controlled dangerous substance in an amount less than one kilogram, or with a value of less than $75,000
• The property is taken from the person of the victim
• The property is taken in breach of an obligation by a person acting as a fiduciary
• The property is taken by threat that does not rise to the level of extortion
• The property is a public instrument, writing, or record
• The property is a New Jersey prescription blank
• The property is an access device, or
• The property is anhydrous ammonia and is intended to be used to manufacture methamphetamine. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-2(b)(2), § 2C:20-3.)

Theft as a Crime of the Second Degree. Theft constitutes a “crime of the second degree” in New Jersey if any of the following circumstances exist:

• The value of the property or services involved is $75,000 or more
• The property is taken by extortion
• The property is a controlled dangerous substance in excess of one kilogram, or
• The property is human remains. (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:20-2(b)(1), § 2C:20-3.)

What are the Possible Penalties in New Jersey?

Because theft can be charged as either a disorderly persons offense, a third-degree offense or a second-degree offense the penalties for being convicted of theft in New Jersey will vary.

A person who is convicted of theft as a “disorderly persons offense” could potentially face imprisonment for a term in prison of up to six months. In addition, a person who is convicted of theft as a disorderly persons offense could face a fine of up to 1,000, or double the amount of monetary loss to the victim, whichever is higher. (§ 2C:43-3, § 2C:43-8.)

Any person who is convicted of theft as a “crime of the fourth degree” could potentially be exposed to a prison term of up to 18 months. In addition, they may face a fine of up $10,000, or double the amount of monetary loss to the victim, whichever is higher. (§ 2C:43-3, § 2C:43-6.)

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Theft as a “crime of the third degree,” carries a possible imprisonment term ranging from three to five years, as well as a fine of up to $15,000.For theft as a “crime of the second degree,” punishment will include imprisonment for a term from five to 10 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $150,000 (or double the amount of monetary loss to the victim, whichever is higher). (§ 2C:43-3, § 2C:43-6.)

Wire Fraud Charges

In regards to this recent case, the woman was charged with 10 counts of wire fraud. Under the federal statutes, there are four essential elements of the crime of wire fraud are:

(1) That the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money;
(2) that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud;
(3) That it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used;
And (4) that interstate wire communications were, in fact, used United States v. Profit, 49 F.3d 404, 406 n. 1 (8th Cir.)

Under 18 U.S. Code § 1343 wire fraud require that the accused use a telephone call or some other form of electronic communication in furtherance of their scheme. United States v. Briscoe, 65 F.3d 576, 583 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing United States v. Ames Sintering Co., 927 F.2d 232, 234 (6th Cir. 1990) (per curiam));

Under 18 U.S. Code § 1343 a person who is convicted of wire fraud can face the following penalties:

A person convicted of wire fraud faces significant potential penalties. A single act of wire fraud can result in fines and up to 20 years in prison. However, if the wire fraud scheme affects a financial institution or is connected to a presidentially declared disaster or emergency, the potential penalties are fines of up to $1,000,000 and up to 30 years in prison. See 18 U.S. Code § 1343

The woman, in this case, was charged with ten counts of wire fraud, which according to the statute constitutes a separate offense. This means that for each of the ten offenses she could face fines and a prison term of up to 20 years.

Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys Handle Theft Charges in Cape May & Atlantic Counties

The experienced theft defense lawyers of The Law Offices of John J. Zarych are dedicated to fighting for people charged with serious crimes. We have successfully handled many cases throughout Atlantic County, Cape May County and beyond. If you or someone you know is in need of assault defense, contact an experienced Cape May theft defense lawyer about your case by calling (609) 616-4956 or contact us online. Lawyers are available to discuss your concerns seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays.