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United States v. Salti.

No. 21-3183. 2/6/2023. D.Kan. Judge Hartz. Restitution—Joint and Several Liability.

February 6, 2023

Salti was sentenced to pay the victim $35,000 in restitution jointly and severally with his coconspirator, Towner. Towner was sentenced by a different judge to pay restitution to the victim of $72,000 jointly and severally with Salti. Towner paid $5,117.92 in restitution, which the clerk apportioned pro rata between the obligation owed by both Salti and Towner ($35,000) and the amount owed solely by Towner ($37,000). After Salti deposited $35,000 with the court clerk as restitution, the clerk informed the government that Salti should receive a refund for overpayment, explaining that Salti had overpaid because 35/72 of Towner’s payments ($2,487.87) had been credited to the $35,000 in restitution owed jointly and severally by both defendants. The government moved the district court to order the clerk not to pay Salti the refund. The district court observed that the Tenth Circuit had not clearly addressed how payments should be made in restitution orders that assign joint and several liability with apportionment. The court then determined that the restitution orders both used a hybrid approach, combining the apportionment of liability approach while concurrently making all defendants jointly and severally liable. The court decided that Salti must continue to pay restitution until either (1) he has paid the full $35,000 or (2) the victim has received the full amount of its loss, $72,000.

On appeal, Salti contended that the district court impermissibly modified his restitution order by requiring him to pay the full $35,000. The restitution orders in the conviction judgments of Salti and Towner are clear: both found that the victim’s loss was $72,000 and declared that each defendant’s liability was joint and several with the other’s. Towner’s judgment states that his restitution liability is $72,000, and Salti’s judgment states that his restitution liability is limited to $35,000. The only issue is when Towner’s payments should be credited toward Salti’s liability. The Tenth Circuit determined that federal courts have uniformly interpreted restitution orders like those at issue in this case in the same way the district court did here, because it best serves the goal of maximizing a victim’s recovery and is fair to the defendants paying restitution. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion.

The order was affirmed.

Official US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit proceedings can be found at the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit website.

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