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Gambling Habits and Drug Abuse Among the Top Reasons for Embezzlement Cases in the USA

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Gambling habits named as one of the reasons for an increase in embezzlement cases alongside drug use and other factors.

American law enforcement agencies have been pretty busy with embezzlement cases in the recent times. The saddest thing is that suspects come from a wide range of demographic groups and you can never know who’s going to be a suspect next.

According to the FBI, embezzlement is mostly a white-collar crime, carried out by renowned and respected people with pretty high social status. Although this type of crime is considered to be a non-violent, it’s nonetheless a danger to society. The perpetrators are using their positions or their job status to deceit the trust other place in them. They steal funds of property, which belongs to their employers or even taxpayers.

And the interesting trend is the higher the position of an embezzler the more serious their crime is, and the higher the shock wave sent through a community is. Recent reports confirm that embezzlement cases are on the rise, the alarming fact is more and more government workers are convicted of this crime.

According to American gambling news the reports also state that gambling problems and drug abuse are the most common reasons for people embezzling from their work place.

More often than not embezzlers use the money they acquire illegally to fund their gaming habits at both land-based and online casinos in the United States. And with more states opening up their online gaming facilities this problem can only grow bigger if not addressed properly.

Why do people steal from their employers?

District Attorney for Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties, Joel Smith, had the following comments about the embezzlement cases: “They do it for a whole host of reasons. In my years as a prosecutor, it seems the biggest reasons are drug addiction, gambling habits and simple greed. Some are very remorseful. Some are not and some appear to be remorseful because they got caught.”

The DA views on the subject are fully in line with a nation-wide study on embezzlement cases, carried out not so long ago. The study has been running for five years, and revealed that two-thirds of embezzling employees have stolen the money to support their lavish lifestyle, fund their gambling problems, or to support their drug addiction.

The 2012 Marquet Report on Embezzlement is the study in question. It confirms that financial difficulties is by far not the most common reason that makes employees embezzle from their workplace. The same study revealed that two-thirds of the subjects were women, and 58 percent of all embezzlers have occupied various finance and accounting positions.

A different study on the same subject, carried out by the Justice Department’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, says that department stores employees, restaurant workers and commercial businesses employees are the most likely to steal from their employers.

Embezzling from banks

Banks, however, are still one of the top workplaces where embezzlement cases occur. A very recent case of 2010 has shown that two employees of the Hancock Bank branch in Ocean Springs, Willie Doris Burney and Margaret Migues, have managed to steal over $3.4 million over a period of 25 years.

Embezzlement cases are on the rise in the USA

 •Some cases reveal stolen money being used at online casinos in the United States
 •The number of government employees accused of embezzlement is rising
 •Banking employees are still the leading group among embezzling suspects

Burney worked as a teller at the bank, while Migues was the bank operations manager. The attorney at law for Migues, Tim Holleman, provided some insights into the crime: “It started relatively innocently and snowballed.”

During the time when the bank was under a different ownership, employees were allows to receive cash and put away a check they were able to retrieve and replace the money when payday came. However, tha practice came to an end, when employees were subjected to audit and struggled to replace the money taken.

As for those particular embezzlers they started stealing money from elderly clients’ savings accounts. Migues even kept a personal ledger of the money taken. This is now used by the lawyer to convince the prosecutors she was intending on paying back the money.

The bust

The two bank employees were caught when a federal investigator saw $50,000 missing from one of the clients’ bank accounts.

When sentencing the embezzlers, Louis Guirola Jr., US District Judge, said their actions have “altered the community greatly.” Both women received eight and a half years in federal prison and an order to pay back the stolen money.

Other cases

The same district saw a range of other embezzlement cases. In one of them, Ashley Keel has confessed she suffered from an addiction to oxycodone that made her steal over $80,000 from Hancock Bank’s Cedar Lake branch in Biloxi. On top of the prison sentence and restitution payments, she also received drug treatment as part of the sentence.

Shopping addiction was the explanation of Veronica Morse, when she has been found guilty of stealing over $200,000 from the Bank of Wiggins. But she also stated that the money was used for vacations and supporting her family.

Law officers involvement

It’s not only bank employees who were involved in embezzlement cases. Mike Byrd, a former Jackson County Sheriff, was also involved in a white-collar crime. He was part of a 31-count indictment, which included 10 counts of fraud and embezzlement.

Byrd utilized the stolen money to fund people to carry out narcotics surveillance, raise money for his bank account at bass tournament and gospel singing. The sheriff, who has already served four terms in office was forced to resign in December 2013. He’s awaiting sentencing as early as this week.

Embezzlement by government employees

More embezzlement cases revolve around former employees of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, as well as the Warren County circuit clerk, and the Quitman County tax assessor. More embezzlement case were brought against the executive director of the Stone County Economic Development Partnership and its secretary.

There was also an Oklahoma Senator, Jay Paul Gumm, accused of embezzling over $24,000 from the EDP. All in all the number of embezzlement cases and arrests is on the rise. Brett Kittredge, the communications director for the state auditor’s office, revealed the figures on cases of alleged misuse of public assets.

The 2013 saw 125 such cases, while in 2012 the number of cases alleging misused or misappropriated public assets was 113. The state auditor’s office has recovered almost $20 million of embezzled money since 2008.

The figures of embezzling government employees are shocking, but what’s most scary is that the money stolen is used for supporting lavish lifestyles including gambling and drug abuse habits, rather than more “normal” cases of supporting the families.

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