Police are claiming that the woman, who used to be in charge of the mall’s guest services department, took money from gift cards lawfully purchased by customers and put it on other gift cards for her personal use. In total, police believe that the amount stolen is around $45,000, which qualifies for a charge of second degree grand theft. Third degree grand theft is any theft from $300 up to $20,000. Second degree grand theft is from $20,000 up to $100,000.
Grand theft in the second degree is punishable by 15 years in prison.
The second charge, organized scheme to defraud, is alleged because the police believe that the number of transactions, as well as the sophistication of the fraud (the accused was in a position to fund and defund cards) qualifies as an organized scheme. Organized scheme to defraud is a third-degree felony.
If convicted at trial, the accused could spend up to 20 years in prison.
With no prior criminal record, it is my experience that this case, if resolved, may plea out to a term of probation where she would be required to pay back all of the money taken.
Internal theft cases, or cases where a theft has been committed by a person inside of an organization, can be difficult to resolve. Unlike a retail theft (shoplifting) case, victims of internal theft often feel betrayed due to the fact that an employee has committed the crime, not some nameless customer. For this reason, the alleged victims tend to demand harsher penalties.
Eric Matheny is a Miami grand theft attorney and Broward grand theft attorney.