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People v. Hollis.

2023 COA 91. No. 20CA1746. Undercover Controlled Drug Buys—Restitution—Money Advanced by Law Enforcement Agencies—Extraordinary Public Investigative Costs.

October 5, 2023

The Weld County Drug Task Force (task force) conducted several undercover controlled drug buys with Hollis, and each time Hollis was permitted to leave with the money that law enforcement spent during the drug deals (buy money). After Hollis’s arrest, the task force searched Hollis’s home for the buy money, but none was recovered. Hollis pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of a controlled substance, and he was sentenced to concurrent nine-year terms in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections. The district court also ordered Hollis to pay the task force restitution for the unrecovered buy money. 

On appeal, Hollis argued that the district court erred in ordering him to pay restitution for the buy money because CRS § 18-1.3-602 does not specifically allow restitution for buy money. Under CRS § 18-1.3-602(3), unrecovered buy money is neither “money advanced by law enforcement agencies” for a victim’s pecuniary loss nor an “extraordinary” direct public investigative cost, so it is not recoverable as restitution by a law enforcement agency. Therefore, the district court erred. 

The order was vacated. 

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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