Former Palm Beach County Employee Faces Grand Theft Charge

Gas prices are high and they don’t appear to be dropping any time soon.

But authorities allege that a one-time Palm Beach County employee went a step too far when he used his county-issued gas card to fill up his own car, WPBF reports.
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Everyone learns at a young age what stealing means. In Florida, the crime can be punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Either way, the charges should be fought aggressively by an experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney.

Grand theft in Fort Lauderdale is a serious criminal charge that carries the real threat of prison time. And a criminal conviction can lead to job loss, disqualification of government-based benefits and loss of other liberties. Even if a person faces a misdemeanor charge, they shouldn’t think they can face the charge alone.

According to the news station, the worker was a storekeeper for the Palm Beach County Purchasing Department from 2008 until earlier this year. The state alleges the man filled his personal vehicle with gas on the county taxpayer dime 40 times, costing more than $3,000.

The news station alleges that the man told authorities his county vehicle would nearly run out of gas several times, so he used his own money to fill that vehicle and, in turn, used his gas card for his own vehicle to make up the difference.

Charges of grand theft in Fort Lauderdale are defined under Florida Statutes 812.014. Under that set of laws, theft means knowingly taking or using the property of another to deprive the other person of the property or using the property without having a right to do so.

The penalties for these theft charges range, depending on the alleged value of the amount stolen. In this case, the value of the alleged stolen gas money is set at around $3,000, meaning the former worker is charged with third-degree grand theft, which is punishable with up to five years in prison, if convicted. For third-degree grand theft, a person must have taken something valued at up to $20,000, a gun, vehicle, a person’s will or other specific things.

The higher the value of what is alleged to have been stolen, the more serious the charge. A second-degree felony in Florida can be punished with a 15-year prison sentence, while a first-degree felony can result in up to 30 years in prison for a person who is convicted.

Obviously, the charges are serious, but sometimes the prosecution has a difficult time proving the value of what is said to be stolen. And if the defense can disprove certain things were stolen, the value can drop and so can the possible penalties.

Also in theft cases, the state can seek restitution, which means money that must be paid back to the victim. So, if the state secures a conviction against a person who steals $10,000 from a company or another person, they may be sent to prison and then once they serve their prison sentence have to pay back $10,000. That can be a large burden for a person who is fresh out of prison and has to find work to get back on their feet. That’s just another reason why fighting these charges is necessary.

If you are arrested on grand theft charges in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

More Blog Entries:

TSA Employee Charged With Thefts at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: August 1, 2011
Man Charged With Stealing Plane in Palm Beach County: July 23, 2011

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