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Accountant accused of embezzling from Baton Rouge Area Chamber

An official from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber was suspicious of some unauthorized credit card charges on the non-profit's account and contacted the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office to investigate. Detectives said a 40-year-old hired by an accounting agency to work for the chamber has now been accused of embezzlement by making more than $41,000 worth of unauthorized purchases on a credit card issued to her by the chamber.

The credit card had strict guidelines for its use and while reconciling statements from the account, chamber officials noticed some charges that did not appear to benefit the chamber. When detectives reviewed the statements they found that between June 29th and December 17th of last year the accountant had used the card to make several thousand dollars worth of miscellaneous purchases, including $35,000 in charges made at a Walmart store.

Authorities are going over everything the suspect had access to at the chamber and if further evidence of criminal wrongdoing surfaces they will pursue additional charges. The agency that employed the accountant and placed her at the chamber said they took immediate action when they learned of the allegations. First they performed an internal investigation, secured a written confession, fired the employee and then filed criminal charges.

Most criminal defense attorneys will advise you to contact an attorney experienced in the charges you are being accused before admitting to anything, verbally or in writing. The first person you speak with upon learning of even the possibility or hint of a criminal accusation should be an experienced criminal lawyer. There are serious consequences if convicted of a white collar crime such as embezzlement, losing your job is a just the beginning.

When most people are accused of a crime their immediate response is fear and embarrassment. Speaking with an attorney will ensure you are treated fairly by the system or that the charges are appropriate for the situation. In many instances an attorney is able to negotiate the actual charges down before they are even filed, if contacted early enough in the process. An attorney can be invaluable in mitigating the consequences of the charges and possibly keep you out of prison if not prevent a conviction in the first place.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber made no comment in the case. After her arrest, the suspect was released on a $6,000 bond pending trial.

Source: 9 WAFB, "Accountant arrested for embezzling nearly $42,000," Cheryl Mercedes, April 4, 2012

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