United States v. Witham, No. 10-1814 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The defendant, part of a conspiracy that stole and re-sold computer parts and memory, pled guilty and was sentenced to 33 months in prison plus 36 months of supervised release and ordered to pay to the victim, jointly and severally with a co-conspirator, restitution of $800,000 plus interest. After he fell behind on the payments, the government obtained a writ of garnishment. The district court held that the government cannot meet its obligation to enforce an order of restitution to a private-party crime victim by using the garnishment procedure of the Federal Debt Collection Procedure Act, 28 U.S.C. 3205. The First Circuit reversed, noting statutory changes that make compensation of private victims a high priority. The Mandatory Victim Restitution Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. 3613) specifically authorizes use of the FDCA to enforce private-victim restitution orders.