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      Embezzlement: a legal and emotional battle

      It's a crime that comes with serious consequences. For your Facebook Story of the Day, you wanted to know more about embezzlement. It doesn't seem like a violent crime, but it can be punished as one. More and more, embezzlement cases are stacking up in the caseload of area detectives.

      Facebook fan Lisa Sutinen writes, "I think stiffer penalties should be given. It should be treated as a robbery and sentenced as such."

      Some say oftentimes the suspect doesn't even have a criminal record, so penalties may vary.

      "The system is going to probably give more priority to prison sentences in the way of drug offenses or violent crime offenses over someone who has embezzled money," said Detective Michael Kohler, with the Marquette City Police.

      The toll it takes on others could be punishment enough. It's very much an emotional battle, gaining trust back from employers, friends, and family members. But perhaps the more serious battle happens in the courtroom, where the consequences are stiff fines and jail time. And as often thought, the motive doesn't stem from a gambling problem.

      "Embezzlement is a crime of necessity," said defense lawyer Karl P. Numinen, of Pence & Numinen, PC. "And the necessity might arise from the casino, but maybe to pay medical bills, maybe because of a long-term layoff or unemployment."

      Still, Numinen says the punishment fits the crime. Anything more than $1,000 is considered a felony, punishable by at least five years in prison. The problem, he says, comes when returning the money isn't feasible and the victim is left to pick up the pieces.

      "If they don't have the funds to pay, it'll never get paid and the victim goes uncompensated," Numinen said.

      To avoid being a victim, experts suggest never leaving one party to be in control of all of your finances, and make sure you're auditing often and keeping a paper track of transactions.