United States v. Clark, No. 19-10186 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Defendant pleaded guilty to health care fraud after operating a chiropractic clinic that fraudulently billed insurance companies for services he performed without a license. Defendant was sentenced to 41 months' imprisonment and ordered to pay the defrauded insurance companies $514,576.29 under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MVRA). The Act generally allows the government to garnish any of the defendant's property to satisfy a restitution order. The district court issued writs of garnishment for accounts defendant maintains with brokerage firms and life insurance companies.
Applying de novo review, the Fifth Circuit agreed with the Sixth Circuit that the child-support exemption only applies to money akin to salary and wages—meaning amounts received directly for labor such as "bonuses, tips, commissions, and fees." Because this does not describe defendant's retirement accounts, the court affirmed the judgment garnishing those accounts.