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United States v. Thompson

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

July 13, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
JAMIE GENE THOMPSON, AKA Jamie P. Thompson, AKA Jamie G. Thompson, AKA Payton Thompson, Defendant-Appellant. [*]

April 14, 2015 Argued

Defendant Jamie Gene Thompson appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont sentencing him, as relevant to this appeal, to pay restitution both to his victims and to third-party providers of compensation for losses arising from his fraudulent activities. Thompson argues that the district court erred by failing to reduce his liability to the third-party providers of compensation by the value of property that he returned to his victims, thus ordering him to pay more in restitution than he actually stole and failed to return. Because the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act caps a defendant's restitution liability at the amount of his victims' actual losses, net of any property the defendant returned to the victims, and because providers of compensation do not qualify as " victims" so as to expand the defendant's liability under the Act, the district court erred in ordering Thompson to pay more than the amount of his victims' net losses.

VACATED AND REMANDED.

BARCLAY T. JOHNSON, Research & Writing Attorney (Steven L. Barth, Assistant Federal Public Defender, on the brief), for Michael L. Desautels, Federal Public Defender, District of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, for Defendant-Appellant Jamie Gene Thompson.

GREGORY L. WAPLES, Assistant United States Attorney (Paul J. Van de Graaf, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), for Tristram J. Coffin, United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.

Before: CABRANES, LYNCH, and DRONEY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Gerard E. Lynch, Circuit Judge.

Defendant Jamie Gene Thompson appeals from a judgment of the district court sentencing him, as relevant to this appeal, to pay restitution under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (" MVRA" ), 18 U.S.C. § 3663A, for losses incurred through his fraudulent misuse of his victims' bank and credit accounts. Prior to his conviction, Thompson returned a portion of the stolen funds to his victims, and the victims' banks reimbursed another substantial portion of the stolen funds, ultimately leaving the victims with more than they had lost through Thompson's crimes. In calculating Thompson's restitution obligation, the district court found that the funds returned by Thompson belonged solely to the victims and could not offset Thompson's liability to the banks for the value of their reimbursements, effectively ordering Thompson to pay more in combined restitution to the banks and the victims than he stole, net of what he returned.

Because the MVRA limits a defendant's restitution amount to the actual losses suffered by his victims, and because third-party providers of compensation do not qualify as " victims" whose losses may expand the defendant's restitution liability, the district court erred in ordering Thompson to pay more in restitution than the victims' actual losses. Accordingly, we vacate the district court's restitution order and remand for recalculation.

BACKGROUND

I. The Fraud

Jamie Gene Thompson has an extensive criminal record that includes at least twelve convictions for fraud- and theft-related crimes. In 2008, Thompson began to work as a home-care attendant for Liddell and Albert Eardensohn, whom he had known for some time through his past services caring for Liddell's father. Although the Eardensohns knew of Thompson's criminal history, they welcomed him into their home, entrusting him with their financial records and eventually moving him into the house as a live-in caretaker.

In October 2012, after Thompson flew to California on what he claimed was a family visit, Liddell discovered numerous discrepancies in the Eardensohns' financial records. She retained an attorney to help investigate the inconsistencies and recoup any missing funds. The investigation ultimately revealed that Thompson had misappropriated tens of thousands of dollars from the Eardensohns. That fraudulent activity included unauthorized withdrawals from the Eardensohns' investment account at Wells Fargo, unauthorized checks cashed against their checking account at TD Bank, and fraudulent charges on their Citibank credit card.

After the fraud was discovered, Thompson wrote the Eardensohns a series of letters confessing and apologizing for his crimes. In one letter, he promised to send $30,000 to cover his withdrawals from the Wells Fargo investment account, begging Liddell not to " press charges against [him]" because he was " doing everything to make this wrong a right to you." Thompson subsequently sent a check for $30,000, as well as a second check for $400 " towards the [credit card] charges ...


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