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June 28, 2006

By: Joel Cohen

Your client has determined that during 2002 and 2003, when it abruptly stopped, his trusted assistant embezzled $20,000 from him. He has the forged checks and has been vacillating on what to do. Having monitored her activities since he discovered the embezzlement, your client notices that on Friday night, she accidentally left her tote bag in her locked desk drawer when she left for the weekend.

On Saturday, your client unlocks the desk with his spare key and opens her bag to find $10,000 in cash in casino wrappers—she had bragged about her winnings last weekend at Atlantic City. He takes the money and deposits it in his bank’s overnight drop. Since he knows that she lives on a shoestring, he figures that if he didn’t grab it, and grab it immediately—even though it’s clearly not the identical money she embezzled from him—he would not recover much, if any, of the stolen $20,000.

Sunday morning, he calls you desperately concerned that he committed larceny. What will you tell him? And what would you have counseled if he had called you before he unlocked her desk and took the cash

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