Frank A. Rubino, ESQ.

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Florida completes unusual "dual prosecution" for embezzlement

The Florida man convicted of grand theft for embezzling roughly $15 million from Marian Gardens Tree Farm was recently given a 12 year sentence in Florida Circuit Court. The white collar crime prosecution is unusual because the man had already been convicted and sentenced to 8 years in prison as part of a federal criminal prosecution in 2009. This so-called "dual prosecution" is highly unusual.

The former Chief Financial Officer for the Groveland tree farm was accused of using millions of dollars in company funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle that included vacations, chartered planes and helicopters, and countless other extravagances. The embezzlement took place over a number of years and culminated in a federal prosecution for white collar crime.

After the conviction, the man was facing 8 years in a federal prison. Apparently, that wasn't enough for state officials in Florida. State Attorney Brad King made the decision to prosecute the man in Florida courts for the same crimes covered in the federal prosecution. He cited the 150 workers who were laid off as a result of the financial troubles the theft caused, as well as the failure of the man to pay back any of the money that was embezzled.

In many states, it is illegal to prosecute a person in state court after he or she has already been prosecuted for the same offenses in federal court. This is believed to be the first dual prosecution in Lake County history. While the second prosecution may lead to 4 additional years in state prison after the man is released from federal prison, it did not lead to the recovery of any of the funds that were taken from the tree farm.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel, "Jet-setting CFO gets dual terms for embezzling $15M at tree farm," Stephen Hudak, 17 July 2011

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