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United States v. Jones

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


August 27, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATOYIA JONES, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge Eastern District of California

DEFENDANT NATOYIA JONES'S UNOPPOSED MOTION TO MODIFY SENTENCE; MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT THEREOF; [PROPOSED] ORDER Judge: Hon. Dennis L. Beck

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that Defendant, Natoyia Jones, through undersigned counsel, will and does hereby move this Court for an order modifying the restitution term of her sentence.

This Motion is made pursuant to the United States Constitution, Federal Rules of Evidence, and all other applicable statutes, case law, and local rules and is based upon the accompanying memorandum of points and authorities, all files and records in this case, and such witness testimony, evidence and argument as may be presented at any hearings on this Motion.

MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

On April 8, 2010, Defendant, Natoyia Jones, was sentenced to one count of theft of government property, having tearfully admitted to the continued receipt of her mother's Social Security benefits for some time after her mother's death. She was sentenced to a term of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $14,463 to the Social Security Administration ("SSA"). At the time of the theft, Ms. Jones, who had long been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, did not know that she herself was eligible for Social Security disability benefits in excess of the amount that her mother and caretaker had been receiving. Through the help of legal assistance that she received at a homeless shelter before the government filed this case, she has been receiving disability benefits for several years now. She has also been receiving consistent treatment for her disability, and she and her twelve-year-old daughter are no longer living on the street and in homeless shelters.

Unfortunately, after receiving notice of the Court's restitution order, the SSA began withholding Ms. Jones's disability checks in their entirety. They have based this callous decision on an SSA policy that allows for complete withholding in cases of fraud where restitution is ordered. (See SSA Policy SI 02220.36 available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0502220036.) As a result, for more than a month, Ms. Jones and her daughter have had no income whatsoever and have been surviving as best they can on state-issued food stamps alone. But without any income, they are unable make their rent payments, and at the time of this writing, they are on the verge of being evicted and forced to reside once again in homeless shelters.

This Motion, which the government does not oppose, seeks to mitigate the harm to Ms. Jones and her daughter while still ensuring that Ms. Jones continues repaying her debt to SSA. Ms. Jones has been receiving $845 each month in disability benefits. With this money she pays rent; buys clothes, food, and school supplies for her daughter; and purchases transportation to her treatment sessions. If she is careful, on this limited budget she can reasonably pay back $25.00 each month towards her debt to SSA.

Accordingly, it is respectfully requested that the Court modify its restitution order so that Ms. Jones's restitution payments be expressly limited to $25.00 monthly.

Having considered Defendant Natoyia Jones's unopposed Motion to Modify Her Sentence, and good cause appearing, the Court hereby ORDERS as follows:

The restitution provision of Defendant's sentence is modified. Defendant is still required to repay her total debt of $14,463, but, until further order of this Court, she shall not be required to make payments towards that debt in excess of $25.00 per month. All other terms of Defendant's sentence shall remain unchanged.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20100827

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