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United States v. Renga

August 18, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRISTOPHER RENGA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anthony W. Ishii Chief United States District Judge

ORDER DIRECTING DEFENDANT TO PAY RESTITUTION

BACKGROUND

On March 16, 2009, Defendant Christopher Renga pled guilty to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) -- Receipt or Distribution of Material Involving the Sexual Exploitation of Minors ("receipt or distribution of child pornography"). On July 28, 2009, the court sentenced Defendant Renga to 97 months custody in the Bureau of Prisons, supervised release for life, and a $100 penalty assessment.

One victim of child pornography has requested restitution from Defendant Renga. On July 28, 2009, the court held a hearing concerning the request for restitution. At the hearing, the parties agreed that the court would resolve the issue of restitution by separate order. At issue is whether the court must award restitution and the amount of restitution the court should award to the victim under 18 U.S.C. § 2259.

LEGAL STANDARD

A restitution order is reviewed for abuse of discretion if it is within the bounds of the statutory framework. United States v. Waknine, 543 F.3d 546, 555 (9th Cir. 2008); United States v. Gordon, 393 F.3d 1044, 1051 (9th Cir. 2004); United States v. Hackett, 311 F.3d 989, 991 (9th Cir. 2002). Factual findings supporting an order of restitution are reviewed for clear error. Waknine, 543 F.3d at 555; Gordon, 393 F.3d at 1051. The legality of an order of restitution is reviewed de novo. Waknine, 543 F.3d at 555; Gordon, 393 F.3d at 1051.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3664, the court must resolve any dispute as to the proper amount of restitution by a preponderance of the evidence. 18 U.S.C. § 3664(e); United States v. Waknine, 543 F.3d 546, 556 (9th Cir. 2008). The government bears the burden of proving: (1) that a person or entity is a victim for purposes of restitution; and (2) the amount of the loss. Waknine, 543 F. 3d at 556; United States v. Peterson, 538 F.3d 1064, 1075 (9th Cir. 2008); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3664(e). While the court is not required to make explicit findings to justify its restitution order, the Ninth Circuit has found that specific findings of fact are necessary at times and the district court must set forth an explanation of its reasoning, supported by the record, when a dispute arises as to the proper amount of restitution. Waknine, 543 F. 3d at 556.

DISCUSSION

Victim Vicky seeks restitution under 18 U.S.C. § 2259, which specifically governs restitution in possession of child pornography cases under Section 2252(a)(4)(B). Section 2259 provides as follows:

(a) In general.--Notwithstanding section 3663 or 3663A, and in addition to any other civil or criminal penalty authorized by law, the court shall order restitution for any offense under this chapter.

(b) Scope and nature of order.--(1) Directions.--The order of restitution under this section shall direct the defendant to pay the victim (through the appropriate court mechanism) the full amount of the victim's losses as determined by the court pursuant to paragraph (2).

(2) Enforcement.--An order of restitution under this section shall be issued and enforced in accordance with section 3664 in the same manner as an order under section 3663A.

(3) Definition.--For purposes of this subsection, the term "full amount of the victim's losses" includes any costs incurred by the victim for--

(A) medical services relating to physical, psychiatric, or psychological care;

(B) physical and occupational therapy or rehabilitation;

(C) necessary transportation, temporary housing, and child care expenses;

(D) lost income;

(E) attorneys' fees, as well as other costs ...


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