Embezzlement against Estate18 U.S.C. § 153
This section prohibits (1) embezzling property and (2) secreting or
destroying any document belonging to the estate of the debtor. Unlike 18
§ 152(8), only documents which are property of the estate are covered
section. The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 made substantial changes to this
section. Section 153 was changed to extend coverage to more individuals who
in a position to embezzle funds from bankruptcy estates. The law now
anyone who has access to property or documents of the estate by virtue of
participation in the administration of the estate in some official capacity.
also, for the first time, specifically covers employees and agents of those
have this access.|
18 U.S.C. § 153 provides:
Whoever knowingly and fraudulently appropriates to his own
embezzles, spends, or transfers any property or secretes or destroys any
belonging to the estate of a debtor which came into his charge as trustee,
custodian, marshal, or other officer of the court, shall be fined... or
imprisoned... or both.
The statute reaches all property that a court officer receives by
reason of his or her position, regardless of whether it is ultimately
to be property of the estate. Meagher v. United States, 36 F.2d 156
The statute also prohibits the destruction or concealment of
belonging to the bankruptcy estate. Thus documents owned by third parties,
though they may relate to debts or assets of the bankruptcy estate, are
PRACTICE TIP. Where there is little evidence of intent to defraud,
prosecution for violating the general embezzlement statute, 18 U.S.C.
should be considered. Although Section 645 covers only money, it
employees and does not require proof of a fraudulent intent. United
v. Sharpe, 996 F.2d 125 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 114 S. Ct. 400
CAVEAT: Unlike subsection 18 U.S.C. § 152(8) this statute does
use the words "recorded information." Thus a possible argument could be
that information stored on a computer is not covered by this statute.
[cited in USAM 9-41.001]