The time of year most schoolchildren anticipate most is field trip season. Traveling to a new and fun place can be exciting even when the trip is educational. Mississippi teachers and parents of grade school and high school students often spend many hours planning trips to ensure the children arrive safely, have adequate lodging and enjoy an enriching experience. However, the executive of one tour company is now accused of embezzlement to enrich his own interests.

The vice present of a tour company in another state is currently facing federal charges for embezzlement, wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes following an investigation into nearly $600,000 missing from the company. Schools across the state and more than 5,000 parents and students apparently paid for trips that were abruptly cancelled when the tour company filed for bankruptcy. Vendors and destinations across the country who worked with the tour company also claim to have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Authorities are pointing the finger at the company’s vice president, who handled the finances. Investigators allege that when schools sent the company payments for trips, the vice president diverted the money to his own accounts to pay for new vehicles and landscaping projects, among other personal expenses. The man apparently took out business loans to cover his withdrawals and told vendors the company had lost money when its computers were hacked.

Federal charges involving such a significant amount of money means that the stakes are high for the accused. The future is on the line for anyone in Mississippi who is facing embezzlement charges. Building a strong criminal defense with the help of a skilled attorney will be a critical step.