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United States v. Hankins

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

June 6, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Anne Marie Hankins, as Primary Shareholder, President and Operations Officer of Emerald Powerline Construction, Inc, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted November 10, 2016 Portland, Oregon

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon Ann L. Aiken, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 6:01-cr-60100-AA-1

          John C. Fisher (argued), Eugene, Oregon, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Amy Potter (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Kelly A. Zusman, Appellate Chief; Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Eugene, Oregon, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: M. Margaret McKeown and William A. Fletcher, Circuit Judges, and Jennifer A. Dorsey, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Criminal Law

         The panel affirmed the district court's denial of Anne Marie Hankins's motion seeking full satisfaction of the restitution judgment entered following her conviction for bank fraud and submitting a false loan application.

         The panel held that a defendant may not discharge a restitution judgment based on a private settlement between the victim and the defendant; and that the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 permits a district court to redirect restitution payments to the Crime Victims Fund, when a victim later disclaims restitution without making a direct assignment to the Fund.

          OPINION

          McKEOWN, Circuit Judge

         In this appeal we resolve two related questions of first impression in our circuit that arise out of the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 ("MVRA"), a statute that requires certain criminal defendants to pay restitution to compensate and assist victims. We first determine whether a defendant may discharge a restitution judgment based on a private settlement between the victim and the defendant. The answer is no-restitution is a criminal sentence that cannot be extinguished by a victim's disclaimer of benefits. Relatedly, we decide whether a district court may redirect restitution payments to the federal Crime Victims Fund, 42 U.S.C. § 10601 et seq., ("the Fund"), when a victim later disclaims restitution without making a direct assignment to the Fund. The answer is yes-the statute provides leeway for the court to fashion this practical solution.

         Background

         The factual background here is not complicated. In 2001, Anne Hankins pled guilty to bank fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1344 after submitting a false loan application for $350, 000 to U.S. Bank Special Assets Group ("U.S. Bank"). The district court sentenced Hankins to thirty days in jail and entered a judgment under the MVRA ordering her to pay U.S. Bank $350, 000 in restitution. The restitution, payable "in full immediately" or, if any unpaid balance remained at the time of Hankins's release from custody, "at the maximum installment possible, and not less than $50 per month, " was to be deposited with the clerk of the court "for transfer to the payee."

         In 2002, U.S. Bank assigned its interest in the restitution judgment to Horton & Associates LLC ("Horton"). In 2011, the district court entered an order substituting Horton as the assigned victim. Although neither the record nor the district court docket explains the time lag between the assignment and the substitution order, the delay is immaterial for our purposes.

         From 2002 to 2013, Hankins made sporadic payments: she paid most months, and the payments ranged from $50 to $400. On several occasions between 2011 and 2013, the Treasury Offset Program also garnished funds, taking from Hankins as much as $3, 310.22 at a time.[1] By July 2013, Hankins had paid $13, 044.30 towards her $350, 000 judgment-leaving her with a remaining balance of $336, 955.70.

         In September 2013, Hankins and Horton purported to settle the outstanding restitution obligation for a mere $5, 000. Soon after, Horton filed with the court a notice entitled "Full Satisfaction of Judgment."[2] The record reflects that neither the district court, Hankins, nor the government took any action in court in response to Horton's notice, although Hankins stopped making payments.

         In April 2015, more than a year and a half after Horton filed its notice, the Treasury Offset Program garnished $21, 765 from Hankins to be applied towards her restitution balance. Hankins, likely displeased by this turn of affairs, filed a motion a few weeks later seeking full satisfaction of the restitution judgment. By that time, ...


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