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Former mortician gets diversion for white collar crimes

A North Carolina man who owned a local funeral home has pleaded guilty to charges that he embezzled money from his business. The 27-year-old man has already had his professional license revoked this year. He was officially charged in January with white collar crimes including obtaining property by false pretense and embezzlement.

Authorities say that the man is accused of taking about $1,500 from his business, Williams Funeral and Cremation Service, after a client submitted a payment for a service contract. The money was collected, but an account was never opened, according to authorities. The customer complained to local authorities, indicating that she had purchased the pre-need contract, but she had never received the associated legal documents. The man has since repaid the woman the money.

The man will face only modest penalties, as he was able to enter a guilty plea through the North Carolina first-offenders program. The man's prosecution will be deferred for a year, and he will be placed on probation. He will have all charges dismissed if he abides by the terms of the probation. In this case, the man must write a letter of apology, complete 100 hours of community service and remain employed in order to qualify for the dismissal of charges.

Such small-time criminal defendants may be able to receive clemency through diversion programs, even for white collar crimes. Serious jail time and long-term consequences are not appropriate for every criminal situation, especially if it seems unlikely that the person will re-offend. Attorneys in North Carolina may be able to identify such programs and evaluate their clients' eligibility for alternative sentencing protocol. Some defendants may benefit more from diversionary programs than from serving hard time.

Source: The Times-News, "Former funeral home director pleads guilty to embezzlement" Michael D. Abernethy, Jun. 13, 2014

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