Charged With Embezzling From Clients
Margarita I. Solis, 46, is the former director of immigration and legal services for the organization. Investigators say that during her employment, she embezzled funds meant to pay the immigration fees of clients.
Among her duties while employed with Catholic Charities was collecting money orders from clients to pay federal immigration fees. However, investigators report that Solis took some of those money orders, made them payable to her, and cashed them for personal use. Prosecutors allege that during 2015 and 2016, the defendant embezzled roughly $2,830 from the clients.
On April 21, an Oklahoma County judge issued a warrant for her arrest.
Patrick Raglow, executive director of Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City, called the financial impact of the alleged embezzlement "minor," and said that the organization called police not out of malice toward the employee, but out of respect for the donors on whom the organization relies.
Embezzlement is a white collar crime in which a person diverts money or property, or misappropriates it, to any use other than its intended use. Typically, this involves using company or organizational funds to which one is entrusted for personal use.
Penalties for Embezzlement in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, embezzlement is penalized according to the value of embezzled property or funds. Recently, the state has passed legislation which will raise the value threshold for felony prosecution; however, the amended statute will not take effect until July 1, 2017--too late for the defendant in this case. Effective July, 1, 2017, embezzlement will be punished as follows, according to 21 O.S. § 1451:
- Value less than $1,000 - misdemeanor, up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- Value of at least $1,000 but less than $25,000 - felony, up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
- Value of $25,000 or greater - felony, up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
Up to 5 years in prison for theft of less than $3,000 seems like a harsh penalty indeed; however, this is the maximum allowable by state law, and with competent legal defense, a person should be able to expect far less than the maximum penalty.
If you or a loved one has been accused of embezzlement or other white collar crime, it is imperative that you decline to speak with your employer or investigators without legal representation. Call 405-778-4800 to schedule a free, confidential consultation about your case.