Embezzlement is the act of using property which the owner has entrusted to someone’s care in a way that affects the true owner adversely. In other words, it is the unlawful misappropriation of property already under an individual’s management.

A California judge recently sentenced a 37-year-old former insurance agent to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to felony charges including fraud and theft. He allegedly embezzled $586,900 from the retirement accounts of 18 clients while working as a financial adviser from 2014 to 2018.

The agent reportedly pocketed $20,000 of $50,000 in advance commissions from seven insurance applications he allegedly submitted to Transamerica Premier Life Insurance Company during 2014 and 2015. Suspecting fraud, the company reported the agent to the California Department of Insurance, which then conducted an investigation.

Investigation findings

According to court documents and a news release from CDI, the agent told his clients that the money he allegedly took from their accounts would roll over into higher-paying retirement plans. Instead, he reportedly deposited the money into a bank account that he controlled, allegedly using some of it to pay for items like travel expenses, designer clothes, restaurant bills and Disneyland season tickets. Prosecutors estimated a total loss of $649,253 at the end of last year as a result of the alleged embezzlement.

Consequences

Following his September arrest, the former agent served 166 days behind bars, for which he received credit from the court. In addition to the six-year prison sentence, he must pay restitution in the amount of $459,721. He no longer has his insurance license.

Though nonviolent and financially motivated, white-collar crime is extremely serious in the eyes of the law. In addition to legal consequences, which can include lengthy prison sentences, a conviction of embezzlement or other white-collar offenses could result in permanent damage to one’s reputation that could have a negative effect on one’s prospects for years in the future.