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Magistrate's office employee pleads guilty to embezzlement

White collar crimes do not necessarily involve large amounts of money. In a case in which a South Carolina woman recently pleaded guilty to embezzlement of public funds, the amount of money involved was no more than $2,300. Of this figure, a portion was recovered -- leaving the woman with $1,395 to pay in restitution.

The 45-year-old was an employee of a magistrate's office since 2003, during which time she reportedly mostly dealt with traffic fines. She pleaded guilty to altering court documents from June 2014 through March 2015 to direct funds to herself for personal use. The investigation followed a request by the sheriff's office and the chief magistrate of Oconee County.

The woman received a jail sentence of 13 months, all but 30 days of which was suspended, with a probation period of 12 months to follow the jail term. A conviction for embezzlement of public funds could result in a prison sentence of as many as five years. The judge also ordered that the woman may serve the jail time over weekends. She must complete repayment of the $1,395 by the end of the 12-month probation period.

This case demonstrates that the guidance of an experienced attorney may be vital when facing embezzlement charges. This South Carolina woman was likely supported and advised by an attorney who advocated for her during plea negotiations. Others facing similar charges may benefit from the skills of a lawyer who can negotiate favorable plea bargains and present sentencing recommendations that might achieve the best possible outcome under the unique circumstances of each case.

Source:, "Former Walhalla magistrate's clerk sentenced in embezzlement", Ray Chandler, July 26, 2016

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