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Whopping 51 felony charges in $500,000 Escondido embezzlement case
A Temecula woman accused of long-term embezzlement of funds has pleaded not guilty to her grand total of 51 felony charges. Sheila Jo Jackson worked as the business manager of Betz Concrete Inc, a successful concrete business in operation since the late 1980s. Jackson was charged with a multitude of felonies referencing the large amount of money obtained during the multi-year theft, currently totaling at over $500,000. According to Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn, the pattern of theft is alleged to go back as far as 2012. Escondido police Lt. Ed Varso reports that no money has been recovered or returned and it is still unknown where or on what it has been spent.
The uncovering of the alleged theft began when a bank employee reported suspicious activity on the Betz Concrete account. As reported by NBC 7 San Diego, it was then that Jackson’s employer contacted the Escondido Police, who through their investigation tied the crime to Jackson. As Jackson has pleaded not guilty to every single charge, the case will make its way toward trial.
While all fifty-one charges will not be listed here, the most serious felonies Jackson is facing are forgery, embezzlement by an employee, grand theft and identity theft. While not particularly long lasting sentences for each crime, the sheer number of charges as well as the potential for enhancements based on the amount is likely to result in a cripplingly long sentence if Jackson ends up convicted on all charges.
It its simplest terms, grand theft is simply theft of property worth more than $950 in total. As Jackson’s grand total is alleged to be well over half of a million dollars, this is easily encompassed within the realm of grand theft. Grand theft is classified as a wobbler in the state of California, meaning it may be charged as either a felony offense or a misdemeanor. Based on reports, Jackson was charged at felony level for grand theft and the remainder of her crimes. Conviction of felony grand theft results in penalties of:
- A 16 month, two year or three year sentence in a California state prison.
- Two additional years of enhancement as the property was worth more than $300,000
- Formal Probation
- A fine not to exceed $10,000
Bear in mind that each additional count of grand theft will have an additive effect on sentencing, potentially resulting in a large prison term. However, there are situations in grand theft cases involving multiple counts that can impact total time served. If it is argued and proven that the multiple incidences of theft were all part of a single plan, then the defendant can only be convicted on a single count.
Embezzlement is charged as either grand theft or petty theft, referenced above. The similarities and mirrored punishments of embezzlement are due to its state of being more of a classification of how the theft took place, as opposed to an entirely different crime. Theft only requires the taking another individual’s property unlawfully. Embezzlement is more specific and requires a relationship of trust being established. In this case, Jackson was the business manager and more or less entrusted with the handling of funds, despite having no true ownership of them. The length of time the funds were kept or intended to be kept have no bearing on whether or not a conviction will occur. Even if the embezzlement was merely borrowing you can still be convicted as intent to deprive is the requirement. For an embezzlement based theft conviction the prosecutor will need to prove:
- The true owner of the property entrusted the defendant with it
- The actual intent was to the deprive the owner of the property
- The property was taking fraudulently for the defendant’s personal use.
Many individuals associate forgery with merely signing someone else’s name on items such a check. Forgery, however, includes any document, provided you had an intent to commit fraud. The intent remains the biggest requirement of a forgery conviction. If there is no intent to defraud someone of money, property or any legal rights, then the charge will fall through. This crime is also a wobbler, but once again, charged as a felony in the referenced case. A conviction of Forgery at a felony level will result in:
- Sixteen months, two years or three years imprisonment
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Restitution to the victim or victims of your crimes
- Formal probation
Identity theft is the unlawful or fraudulent use of an individual’s personal identifying information. Receiving or trying to receive credit, services, property and even medical information are some of the common occurrences for which identity theft is prosecuted on. As with the other felonies charged in this case, the maximum penalty per count of identity theft is relatively low as far as prison sentences are concerned. The total penalty for a felony conviction can result in a maximum of three years, and a $10,000 fine, effectively mirroring the penalties for the crimes of grand theft and forgery. Stiffer penalties are possible in situations where identity theft is charged as a federal crime, but there have been no reports of this being the case in this situation.
All things consider, Sheila Jo Jackson could be facing decades of prison time for the large amount of charges and counts she is reportedly facing. Whether or not her attorney is able to prove the grand theft and embezzlement was merely separate actions under the same theme can drastically effect her overall prison time. Due to the bank itself noticing the suspicious activity, it is unlikely there is not a significant level of proof as well as a trail to follow already in existence, Still, as our justice system prides itself on fairness and innocence until proven guilty, the case could take considerable time to complete. Framing, of course, is not out of the realm of possibility but rare. Jackson’s very best chance at keeping her penalties low if she is ultimately convicted are dependent on a competent, and experienced criminal defense attorney.
White collar crimes, despite their deceivingly low sentences, can have devastating effects on your freedom as the counts multiply, especially if you lack professional representation. Regardless of your crime, seeking a skilled criminal defense attorney should be the first step you take in defense of yourself against charges. Criminal defense attorney Vik Monder not only has a wealth of experience in fraud and theft cases, but has a proven record of getting charges dropped or reduced to a level of low impact. When your freedom and future are on the line, the quality and personal experience of your chosen lawyer can be the ultimate deciding factor in your case. If you are in need of an attorney who will hold nothing back in your defense, schedule your free consultation with us today by calling 619-405-0063 or visiting our website at San Diego Criminal Lawyer .