Three women in Minnesota have been accused of stealing money intended to help homeless individuals. They currently face fraud charges. According to federal prosecutors, the women pilfered thousands of dollars while working at Catholic Charities.
One of the women reportedly provided her Social Security number and name to a charity worker, who completed fake Internal Revenue Service forms as well as lease agreements. The worker then allegedly made it possible for the woman to receive checks. Over the course of 3.5 years, the woman reportedly stole nearly $36,000 from the charities.
The two other women facing charges in connection with the scheme are accused of stealing nearly $27,000 and more than $12,000, respectively. This money was intended to help cover the rent of people attempting to recover from hard times. The charity said it was working with the nonprofit's insurer to address its financial losses.
Those accused of fraud in Minnesota have the right to proceed to trial to aggressively fight these charges. At trial, prosecutors must prove every element of their charges beyond a reasonable doubt -- a feat that can be difficult to achieve -- before any convictions can be handed down. If the evidence that prosecutors intended to present at trial appears to be strong, the defendant may prefer to seek to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors, as this might result in a more lenient charge and thus a lighter sentence. An attorney's goal in either situation is to make sure that the client's rights are protected and that his or her best interests are upheld during all stages of the criminal proceeding.