United States v. Luis

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-28-2014
  • Case #: 13-50020
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Court Judge Smith for the Court, Circuit Court Judges Hurwitz and Paez.
  • Full Text Opinion

A pecuniary loss suffered by a victim is sufficient to satisfy the "offense against property" requirement under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act.

Defendants Marco Luis and Joshua Hester were business partners that frequently invested in real property. The two were well suited for the profession because Luis was a real estate agent and Hester was a marijuana dealer that could provide capital. The pair bought two parcels of land with fraudulently acquired loans. The loan fraud was discovered when the loans went into default. At around the same time, a larger investigation revealed Hester’s illegal marijuana operation, resulting in criminal charges for both defendants.The two were ordered to pay restitution to the victim banks under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (“MVRA”). The MVRA requires restitution be paid when the defendant’s crime is “an offense against property” and when there is an identifiable “victim.” The defendants appeal their conviction based on the theory that there was no harm to any actual physical property. The MVRA does not have a specific definition of “offenses against property” but the Ninth Circuit explained that pecuniary losses constitute an offense against property for the purposes of the MVRA.Therefore, the panel found that because the banks were considered “victims” that experienced “an offense against real property” that the district court was correct in imposing restitution under the MVRA.

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