On July 21, a former Massachusetts property owner pleaded not guilty to charges of larceny and embezzlement. The defendant, who owns a payroll services firm, is accused of failing to pay taxes on behalf of her clients for several years.

According to a local news outlet, the Essex District Attorney’s Office began investigating the defendant after two small businesses complained that her payroll firm failed to pay their state taxes, which were estimated to be around $60,300. As a result of the investigation, she was charged with two counts larceny and two counts of embezzlement by a tax preparer.

What are the consequences of an embezzlement conviction?

If the defendant is convicted of larceny, she could be sentenced to up to five years in state prison. If she is convicted of embezzlement, she could be sentenced to up to three years in state prison and face fines of up to $100,000. For now, she has been released from custody on her own recognizance and ordered not to contact her former clients. She is next scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 27. According to authorities, more charges could be filed against her after they complete their investigation. It is also possible that her husband could face charges.

How could an attorney help defendants in white-collar cases?

Individuals charged with embezzlement, fraud or other white-collar crimes might be able to help their situation by contacting an attorney as soon as possible. The attorney could review the case and look for evidence that counters the prosecution’s claims, which may cause the charges to be dismissed. If the charges appear solid, the attorney may recommend negotiating a plea deal that reduces the charges and lowers the penalties.