The crime of embezzlement now carries tougher penalties in Delaware.
Supporters of the revision hope it sends a message to those who are tempted to steal from nonprofits or local governments, which sometimes take years to recover from losing tens of thousands of dollars.
Governor Jack Markell has signed a bill into law that imposes up to eight years in prison if an embezzler steals $50,000 or more, where current sentences may range from three to five year. If the loss is more than $100,000, maximum terms of up to 25 years are possible.
“These so-called white-collar crimes might not be violent felonies, but they can have a dramatic impact on society,” State Representative Larry Mitchell, D- Elsmere, said. “When you’re talking about a nonprofit group or a small town, $50,000 could be the difference between being solvent or running in the red.”
Embezzlement now joins the crimes of theft, health care fraud and new home construction fraud that carry ehnanced penalties when losses reach $50,000 or more. Recent high-profile embezzlement cases in Delaware include that of former Kenton Treasurer Stephanie Mickle, who received eight years in prison for stealing town funds and forging documents.
“Small town governments, charities and other organizations can take years to recover from the damage caused by an embezzler,” Attorney General Beau Biden said. “As a result of this new law, those who steal for personal profit face tougher punishments that better fit their crimes.