Although Joe Arpaio was voted out as Sheriff of Maricopa County five years ago, he has cost the county in excess of $100 million. Just a couple of weeks ago, county officials agreed to cover their portion of a settlement with the owner of a local restaurant who alleged that the former sheriff defamed him and violated his rights while raiding his business. This lawsuit was one of the last civil lawsuits pending against Arpaio.
A Very Expensive Sheriff
While this payout brought litigation costs from Arpaio’s time as Maricopa County Sheriff to over $100 million for settlements and litigation costs, it does not include separate funds that are now being spent to overhaul the sheriff’s office.
Arpaio gained national notoriety for jailing individuals in tents during triple-digit Arizona summers. He earned Republican nods for targeting the immigration population, even though it was not his job but the federal authorities’. After a 2017 criminal contempt conviction, he was pardoned by then-president Donald Trump.
While Maricopa County was well aware of their sheriff’s antics and bending of the law, they kept voting him in as sheriff. He has continued to defend his tactics and crackdowns and is now running for mayor of Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Being that Arpaio has cost the county over $100 million, can he be charged with embezzlement?
What Exactly is Embezzlement?
Embezzlement happens when an individual misappropriates or steals money that has been entrusted to them. It is different from larceny or robbery in that this individual already has access to the money or property but uses a position of trust to move the it into their own personal possession and use.
Example of embezzlement can include
- Taking money from a cash register, an employer account, or an organization’s account
- Moving a client’s or customer’s money into a personal account
- Changing the books to hide losses or misappropriate money
- Taking inventory for personal use
- Padding an expense account
- Taking bribes or kickbacks
- Using fake credit cards or checks
- Defrauding a trust account and misusing assets
While the embezzler may be convicted in criminal court, they also may be subject to a civil lawsuit filed by the person who lost the property or money in the embezzlement.
Although Joe Arpaio has cost Maricopa County a great deal of money, none of this would be considered embezzlement by a criminal court. While he has proven that he is outlandish and thumbs his nose at the law, so far, he has not been held criminally accountable for anything other than contempt and we know how that ended up. The one place he has lost is in the minds of Arizona voters. We will soon see if the voters in Fountain Hills follow suit.
Embezzlement is a Serious Crime
Embezzlement is a serious crime and charges can be brought at the state and federal level, although in most cases, larger cases of embezzlement will usually be litigated in federal court. In order to prove embezzlement, the prosecutor must prove several things:
- That there was a relationship of trust or a fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the individual, private company, organization, or agency
- That the property came into the possession of the defendant through that relationship or employment
- That the defendant’s dealing with the property was a misappropriation or fraudulent conversion into his or her own personal use
- That the defendant acted with intent to deprive the owner of the use of that property.
If you are facing embezzlement charges in Nevada, the white collar defense team at LV Criminal Defense offers skilled legal representation to ensure your best results. Call us at (702) 623-6372 or contact us on our website to schedule a no-cost consultation.