(CN) – A New Jersey appeals court upheld the judiciary’s practice of distributing restitution on a chronological basis, rather than the pro-rata basis sought by the ninth victim of a used-car salesman’s fraud.
The court rejected Leonard Felicioni’s claim that the method of disbursement violated his due process and equal protection rights under state and federal constitutions.
Felicioni was fleeced for $16,200 by Michael Cervini, who accepted cars on consignment and sold them to third parties without conveying the titles or paying Felicioni.
Cervini pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception and was ordered to pay more than $95,000 in restitution to 20 victims, including Felicioni.
But Felicioni was ninth in line to get paid, and there were 11 victims after him. He filed a class action against the state, the Administrative Office of the Courts and its acting director, and the director of the Intensive Supervision Program, demanding pro-rata distribution.
Judge Parrillo said Felicioni’s argument “does not carry the day.” The first-in-time method “offends neither equal protection nor due process protections, nor any other constitutional or statutory provision,” the court concluded.