To protect the integrity of the vast sums of money distributed through Federal programs, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. § 666. The section is designed to facilitate the prosecution of persons who steal money or otherwise divert property or services from state and local governments or private organizations--for example, universities, foundations and business corporations--that receive large amounts of Federal funds.
Subsection (a)(1)(A) of Section 666 prohibits the embezzlement, stealing, obtaining by fraud or otherwise unauthorized conversion to the use of any person other than the rightful owner or the intentional misapplication of property having a value of $5,000 or more by an agent, typically an employee, of an organization or of a state, local or Indian tribal government agency that receives $10,000 or more annually in Federal assistance. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the amount obtained in violation of the section.
Under prior law, with few exceptions, thefts from such governments or organizations could be prosecuted only under the general theft statute, 18 U.S.C. § 641, or the statute prohibiting theft of funds under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), 18 U.S.C. § 665. Use of the general theft statute was often precluded because either the title to the property stolen had passed from the Federal government before it was stolen or the funds were so commingled that their Federal character could not be shown.
Consequently, Congress created 18 U.S.C. § 666 to ensure the integrity of Federal program funds administered through private organizations and state, local, or Indian tribal government agencies and to fill an apparent gap in the law that neither 18 U.S.C. § 641 nor § 665 could reach.
[cited in USAM 9-46.100]