Federal government sponsors numerous programs to the cost of billions of dollars. One of the main priorities of federal law enforcement is protecting abuse of these programs including theft and misappropriations of federal funds. Therefore, some of the commonly prosecuted federal crimes are theft, fraud and bribery in federal programs. 18 U.S.C. 666 is the federal criminal statute that criminalizes theft of money distributed through Federal programs. The statute applies to misapplication of funds or property or services from state and local governments or even private organizations that receive federal aid.

New York federal criminal lawyers of Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC have years of federal criminal litigation experience, especially in the areas of complex white-collar criminal defense. If you are charged with embezzlement, larceny, or criminal conversion under a federal criminal statute, you need to utilize the experience and tenacity of our white-collar defense attorneys.

Theft of Federal Funds

The main purpose of 18 U.S.C. § 666 is to protect federal funds invested in government programs. It is aimed to prosecute those who steal or divert government property or services. This includes any program financed by the federal government, even if it is administered through local and state governments.

To secure conviction in 18 U.S.C. 666 prosecutions, the government must prove the following elements:

  • that the defendant is an agent of an organization or of a state, local or Indian Tribal government;
  • that the organization, government or agency receives benefits in excess of $10,000 in a one-year period pursuant to a Federal program involving a grant, a contract, a subsidy, a loan, a guarantee, insurance, or another form of Federal assistance;
  • that the defendant embezzled, stole, obtained by fraud, or otherwise without authority knowingly converted to the use of any person other than the rightful owner, or intentionally misapplied, property;
  • which had a value of $5,000 or more; and
  • was owned by or under the care, custody, or control of such organization, government, or agency.

The government must also prove the elements of the specific prohibited act charged such as embezzlement, larceny, fraud, intentional misapplication, or criminal conversion.


Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of property by a person to whom such property has been entrusted. Embezzlement is different from larceny in that the person originally came to control the property lawfully with the owner’s consent. An example of embezzlement would be an accountant or an attorney who steal the funds clients entrusted to them, or a corporate officer misappropriating the corporate money they are supposed to manage. To prove the crime of embezzlement under 18 U.S.C. §  666 the government must prove that


  1. there was a trust or fiduciary relationship between the defendant and the victim, which would be the government or the organization which manages the government property or funds;
  2. the defendant had the possession of the property through their employment;
  3. the defendant’s fraudulent converted or misappropriated the property to his own use; and
  4. the defendant acted with the intent to convert or misappropriate the property (not general intent to commit some crime)


What Is Government Property

The law prohibits the fraudulent taking of “property” worth $5,000 or more and which was under the care custody or control of the organization, government or agency. The term “property” includes money and all types of property, tangible and intangible.

Which Organizations Are Included

Under 18 U.S.C. § 666(b), the organization must have received over $10,000 in benefits from some federal program grants, contracts, subsidies, loans, insurance, and all other types of federal help. Essentially, this covers all local city, county, and state government agencies, as well as private organizations, which directly receive federal funds such as universities and hospitals.

Our New York federal criminal defense lawyers have been defending complex white-collar fraud cases in federal courts for decades. Combined, we have handled over a thousand of federal cases and taken over a hundred cases to trial. If you are investigated for any fraud against the government, we can help you. Speak with us as soon as you can. We will meet you for a confidential evaluation of your case. If we represent you, we will choose the optimal defense strategy utilizing our experience with previous similar cases.

If you or someone you know is under investigation or has been arrested for theft from a federally funded program, give us a call to schedule a confidential consultation!