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  • Using Another Employee's Expense Account

    Hi,

    I work in a law firm on the administrative team. I regretfully use a lawyer's expense account on 5 occasions to take a taxi home. It is a stupid mistake. I am now being investigated and the taxi drivers described me as the person that took those rides. Words like fraud have been thrown around and it is getting me very scared. I know what I did was wrong but I have been otherwise an extremely hard working employee.

    I am being investigated with suspension with pay. They will look into the building cameras. Should I resign on my own? Are there any legal action that can be taken on me?

  • #2
    Personally I would first admit to it without making them going through the investigation. Second I would offer to pay back the charges. Third, I would not expect to keep my job and offer to resign. But that's me. I hold myself to a very high standard and can honestly say I would not have done that without asking permission first. And I strongly believe owning up to the mistake immediately is better than lying or hiding. I don't know how much a taxi ride is in your town, but if we are only talking a few hundred dollars, I would get it into the open as soon as you can. The fact that you did it 5 times is not in your favor -- that makes it NOT a simple mistake, but a pattern of abuse. And I would suspect they are going to look carefully at any other expense reports that you had access to charge to. If they find anything else, you are probably out of luck.

    However, the employer can decide to inform local police and charge you with fraud or theft which may mean you receive a criminal record which will show up in a background check. Sometimes however they don't want the publicity and will allow the steps above to make you go away quietly. I would not however expect any type of good reference from them.

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    • #3
      Agree that you should go ahead & admit to what you did, pay back what you owe & resign. You will not qualify for unemployment ins. if you quit/resign. However; if they terminate you which they most likely will, you very likely will not get UI either due to the reason for your termination.

      We can't say if they will or will not take any legal action against you. We don't know your employer.
      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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      • #4
        Prior to reading their responses, I was going to say exactly what hr for me and Betty3 said, and I say that from the experience of working inside law firms. Once trust is broken there is virtually zero chance of recovery. Follow the advice above (admit to what you did, pay back what you owe & resign) and hope they let you move on without pressing charges. It is true that some law firms would prefer to avoid the publicity associated with a fraud prosecution but we cannot say with any certainty what your firm will do.
        While I may work for lawyers, I am not an attorney. Comments I make are based on my working experiences and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Law Firm Business Manager View Post
          Prior to reading their responses, I was going to say exactly what hr for me and Betty3 said, and I say that from the experience of working inside law firms. Once trust is broken there is virtually zero chance of recovery. Follow the advice above (admit to what you did, pay back what you owe & resign) and hope they let you move on without pressing charges. It is true that some law firms would prefer to avoid the publicity associated with a fraud prosecution but we cannot say with any certainty what your firm will do.
          If I resign without admitting anything, and they press charges, what kind of trouble would I be in? Jail time?

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          • #6
            If they press charges, you might want to get yourself a defense lawyer.
            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

            Comment


            • #7
              How much money are we talking about here? It makes a difference what kind of charges could be placed and it also makes a difference whether they'd be likely to take any further action or if they'd settle for just firing you.

              There's no way to tell if resigning might make a difference or not. If you resign, they might decide that's enough and not do anything further, or they might decide that since you stole from them they're going to prosecute anyway. Or they might not prosecute to begin with. There's no single right answer that's always going to be the case. When an employee of my husband's did something similar, I advised him to fire the guy, which he did, but I also advised him to negotiate a neutral reference in exchange for restitution. So now, if someone calls for a reference, my husband says, "Yes, John worked for me between (date) and (date) and his title was (title)" instead of, "I fired John because he used his business credit card for personal use to the tune of $1500". And yes, it would have been perfectly legal for him to say that, just as it will be perfectly legal for your employer to say what you did. And John paid my husband his $1500 back.
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by cbg View Post
                How much money are we talking about here? It makes a difference what kind of charges could be placed and it also makes a difference whether they'd be likely to take any further action or if they'd settle for just firing you.

                There's no way to tell if resigning might make a difference or not. If you resign, they might decide that's enough and not do anything further, or they might decide that since you stole from them they're going to prosecute anyway. Or they might not prosecute to begin with. There's no single right answer that's always going to be the case. When an employee of my husband's did something similar, I advised him to fire the guy, which he did, but I also advised him to negotiate a neutral reference in exchange for restitution. So now, if someone calls for a reference, my husband says, "Yes, John worked for me between (date) and (date) and his title was (title)" instead of, "I fired John because he used his business credit card for personal use to the tune of $1500". And yes, it would have been perfectly legal for him to say that, just as it will be perfectly legal for your employer to say what you did. And John paid my husband his $1500 back.
                It's about $250. I guess the smart thing to do is not to say anything while the investigate and let them decide what course of action to take then to see what I should do. I know what I did is wrong but it does seem like too much trouble to go after me. I definitely want to pay back the money.

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                • #9
                  For $250 I wouldn't expect jail time. If it were me, I'd fire you and I'd tell the unemployment folk why I fired you, but that's all I'd do. I'd neutral-reference as long as you paid restitution.

                  YMMV. Just because that's what I'd do doesn't mean your employer might not do more. Or less.
                  The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fokjownyc View Post
                    It's about $250. I guess the smart thing to do is not to say anything while the investigate and let them decide what course of action to take then to see what I should do. I know what I did is wrong but it does seem like too much trouble to go after me. I definitely want to pay back the money.
                    No, three of us (at least) have told you the smart thing to do is to admit it. You know they are going to find it. The longer you sit back and wait for them to find it, the less likely they are going to be to negotiate with you at all. It just proves you MORE and MORE untrustworthy and in all honesty, your attitude of requiring them to spend the time on an investigation would make me peeved enough to file charges.

                    As my CEO says "get to failure as soon as possible, learn from it and move on".

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                    • #11
                      I wouldn't say that is the "smart" thing to do. Employers would much rather you own up to what you did rather than make them jump through hoops to prove it before admitting what you did. Tick them off and you can forget about counting on any good will with regard to allowing you to resign, references or even not prosecuting.
                      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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                      • #12
                        OP, this is the third board I've seen this posted to and it's by far the best and most consistent advice. Other responses were given from a criminal prosecution perspective, unlikely in your case.

                        Their investigation has already cost more than the $250 and they will most likely be looking deeper too, costing more time and money.

                        Admit, resign, and offer restitution.

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