Robers v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: May 5, 2014
  • Case #: 12-9012
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Breyer, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous court. Sotomayor, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Ginsburg, J., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

When the "property" covered by The Mandatory Victims Restitution Act is money used to acquire collateral, the value of the collateral at the time of sale must be used in determining the offset.

Petitioner was convicted in federal court of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for submitting fraudulent loan applications, and was ordered, pursuant to The Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A, to pay restitution. The restitution ordered by the district court was the difference between the amount of the original loan and the sale prices of the homes that were attached as collateral.

Petitioner appealed his restitution obligation, claiming that part of the property was returned to the banks when they took title, and therefore the value of the houses at the time the banks acquired title should be used in determining the remainder of the restitution owed to the banks. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected Petitioner's argument and affirmed the lower court's ruling.

On appeal, the Supreme Court held that "any part of the property . . . returned" refers to the property the bank lost, which is the money lent, not the collateral it secured. The courts have the authority to permit reasonable delays in the sale of the collateral and normal market fluctuations do not break the causal chain between the fraud and the losses incurred by the victim. While the return of collateral compensates lenders for their losses under mortgage law, this does not apply when the lender is a victim.

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