United States v. Hughes, No. 13-3073 (D.C. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Defendant pleaded guilty to making false statements to government authorities, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2). Plaintiff was told by her managers at Blackhawk to certify that Blackhawk guards had received training that they had not in fact received, thereby enabling Blackhawk to charge more for each guard’s services. As part of her sentence, she was jointly and severally liable for $442,330 in restitution. But, the district court also expressed a clear intention that the actual restitution amount should be much smaller, perhaps as little as $0. A federal court had already entered judgment against Blackhawk for more than $1 million. And the district court said, in sentencing defendant, that she would not be on the hook at all if Blackhawk paid its fine. Even in the absence of such a payment, defendant would only have to pay “at a rate of not less than $50 each month.” In 2013, defendant found out that the Treasury Department had seized tax refunds due her and that it had acted under the Treasury Offset Program (TOP), 31 U.S.C. 3716, 3720A. Defendant then filed a Motion for Clarification or Modification of Supervised Release in the sentencing court, asking that the tax refunds be returned and future seizures stopped. At the first hearing, the district court vacated defendant’s sentence, stating that it had not anticipated or intended that she be subject to such a harsh sentence. At the second and third hearings, the district court entertained further arguments about the resentencing. At the fourth hearing, the district court reimposed its original sentence. The court held that the sentence manifested a clerical error which the district court should have corrected. The court also held that, in light of the necessary corrections in the sentence, the district court’s refusal to remedy the TOP collection was error. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to require the government to return defendant's tax refunds and to cease withholding payments.