SCOTUS Will Address Restitution Under Victims Act

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court will review whether reimbursement of costs of investigations and expenses incurred under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act that were “neither required nor requested” by the government may be included in restitution.

The Fifth Circuit found that 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(b)(4), covering restitution, is not overly broad, but the D.C. Circuit ruled otherwise. The Supreme Court on Friday accepted certiorari for Sergio Fernando Lagos v. United States of America, finding that the appeals courts were “clearly and intractably divided.”

Lagos was convicted of defrauding General Electric Capital Corporation of millions of dollars and was ordered to repay the $11 million plus $4.85 million in costs associated with the internal investigation. He appealed his fraud conviction, saying the terms of the reimbursement statute are overly broad and easy to misapply.

Lagos did not rebut the government’s decision that he should repay $11 million of which he defrauded GE, but said he should not have to pay another $4.85 million in restitution for forensic expert and consulting fees that led to his arrest.

He is represented in his appeal to the Supreme Court by Randolph Schaffer Jr. of Houston, and Daniel Geyser and Peter Stris with Stris & Maher of Dallas and Los Angeles, who wrote in their petition for a writ of certiorari: “The question presented is: Whether Section 3663A(b)(4) covers costs that were ‘neither required nor requested’ by the government, including costs incurred for the victim’s own purposes and unprompted by any official government action.”

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