A seven-week police investigation ended on Friday, August 7, with the arrest of 42-year-old Jayne Merchant for embezzlement. The Fort Pierce woman was charged with taking a total of $185,000 over the past two years from the office of Coastal Orthopedic and Sports Medicine in Port St. Lucie, where she was a bookkeeper. The sheriff’s detectives claimed that Merchant took the money in two-week periods, depositing it in her personal bank accounts.
Lt. Michael Sheelar, spokesman for the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, said that Merchant admitted embezzling the money. She also said that she had taken money from the office in the past but had always returned it before being caught.
Merchant was booked at the St. Lucie County Jail on a $160,000 bond. She is charged with first-degree grand theft, organized fraud, and six counts of uttering a forged instrument. Under Florida law, the forged instrument charge occurs when a person knowingly circulates any forged or altered financial document with the intent to defraud others. It is punishable as a third-degree felony.
Under Florida law, grand theft can be charged in one of three degrees, and the punishments generally are decided by the charge. First-degree grand theft is charged when it involves property valued at over $100,000. It is punishable by prison time of at least 21 months and a fine of $10,000. A third-degree felony is the least serious felony type under Florida law. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
Grand theft and felony charges are taken very seriously under Florida law, although there are some defenses against these charges, such as consent given by the property owner or intoxication that was induced. A law firm that is experienced in embezzlement and theft charges may be able to build a solid defense if you are so charged. If you are involved in an embezzlement or theft charge, contact the Jonathan Jay Kirschner Law Firm in Fort Pierce. You will need an experienced Fort Pierce
Embezzlement Lawyer and an experienced Fort Pierce Theft Attorney. We are both and we know Florida law. Call us now because we can help.