by Brian Mahany
It’s only human to hang on to the hope that criminals will redeem themselves and pay restitution. While it’s okay to hope and pray for the best, waiting on cops and courts to collect restitution from criminals is not a good recovery strategy. In many instances, purchasing a lottery ticket my have better odds.
There are probably a few prosecutors reading this post that may disagree. During my years of public service I saw several cases where restitution was collected; usually from petty thieves and vandals that committed minor property crimes. Unfortunately, in white collar crimes the money is often spent and gone.
When criminals come out of prison, job prospects are pretty slim. Disbarred lawyers and convicted stockbrokers can’t pick up their careers where they left off. Regulators won’t let them. Still, we often speak to a victim that elects to “wait and see” if the defendant will pay restitution. Often by the time they realize that little or no money is forthcoming, it is too late for us to assist.
The fallacy of restitution can best be explained with a real world example. Last month Casey James Fury was sentenced in a Portland, Maine federal court to 17 years prison for setting a serious fire aboard the USS Miami, a nuclear submarine. It wasn’t one fire, it was two and they were deliberately set.
Setting a fire aboard a submarine is no prank. 5 people were injured. Fury must not only serve 85% of his 17 year prison sentence, when he is released he will need to serve 3 years of extended supervision. He was also ordered to pay $400,000,000.00 of restitution during that 3 years.
Do you see where this is going?
Assuming Fury is still alive when his release date rolls around, the former painter must earn and pay $133 million per year if he is to pay off restitution during his extended supervision period.
Courts are doing the right thing when ordering restitution but those orders are virtually impossible to enforce.
One of the largest obstacles in asset recovery cases is the passage of time. Even if prosecutors are successful in obtaining some restitution, it is not unusual to find that the amount repaid to victims is pennies on the dollar. We have seen receivership cases where the court appointed receiver spend more money than is recovered.
If you have lost money to a fraud, Ponzi scheme, dishonest stockbroker, negligent lawyer, a Tenant in Common (TIC) scam or a bogus 419 plan, we can help. Sometimes cases can be handled on a contingent fee or success basis meaning no legal fees unless we recover for you. (Unless in our “back yard,” our minimum loss is $200,000.)
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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