In small business, the line between personal and corporate finances often becomes blurry. As these companies begin to grow, that lack of clarity can result in real problems when business owners who fail to ensure their accounting isn't being tampered with by an employee or partner, putting themselves and their investments at serious risk.
According to the Lansing State Journal, Marti Schrauben of Portland, Mich., was recently charged with embezzling $500,000 that belonged to Lehman Funeral Homes, a business that he co-founded and for which he had held the role of managing director.
Initially, Schrauben took advantage of a plea deal. WWMT reported that in exchange for a one-year jail sentence cap, Schrauben pleaded guilty to one of the felony charges and entered a plea of "no contest" for four separate counts.
However, that deal was short-lived. Schrauben's defense attorney G. Michael Hocking told the Lansing State Journal that Ionia County Circuit Court Judge David Hoort rejected the deal because the crimes Schrauben is alleged to have committed carry a three-year minimum prison sentence. As a result, Schrauben was able to withdraw his pleas.
"The [Michigan] Attorney General's Office and I will continue to negotiate this," Hocking said, according to the news source.
The case has proven to be complex – but if Schrauben's partners had implemented audit solutions, the alleged crimes may have been caught earlier, allowing for a simpler trial.