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Baton Rouge bookkeeper suspected of embezzlement, arson

A former bookkeeper, who was to be interrogated in relation to an embezzlement investigation, was arrested for setting a Baton Rouge business on fire. According to police, the 51-year-old woman has been booked on one count of arson.

The accused was already facing the possibility of felony charges for embezzlement. According to Louisiana police reports, the company owner had filed a complaint against the ex-bookkeeper after discovering that discovered that checks amounting to $6,400 were written to the woman.

Apparently, the accused woman was aware that she was under investigation for forgery and was to meet the investigators the day after the fire. The arson was limited to the office area, but a part other parts of the facility were smoke damaged, amounting to an estimated $180,000 worth of damage.

The penalties for federal and state criminal convictions are usually based on the intensity of the offense and on the defendant's criminal background. Cases that involve fraud or theft of large amounts of money often result in imprisonment. Probation, fines or community service can also be a part of the penalty. In the end, however, it will be up to the jury to determine whether or not the prosecution met the burden of proof to reach a guilty verdict.

Embezzlement is considered property theft under Louisiana law. The embezzlement of funds occurs when those who are entrusted to safeguard someone else's property or money take all or a portion of that property for their own gain. Sentences are based on the amount of the property or money stolen, with a possibility of high penalties for defendants who have been previously convicted of a felony.

Source: The Advocate, "Ex-employee accused of starting fire," Jim Mustian, Feb. 6, 2013

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