United States v. Batson: Restitution Orders in Tax Fraud Cases Permitted by 9th Circuit

Jun 30, 2010

Alma Batson plead guilty to one count of IRS Code §7206 for willfully aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns. She conceded that at least $965, 673 in refunds were given to taxpayers that they were not entitled to. Batson was sentenced to prison followed by supervised release and ordered to pay $176,854 in restitution.

In an appeal Batson argued that only the Victim and Witness Protection Act (VWPA) and the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA) authorized restitution as a condition of supervised release.

The Ninth Circuit held that 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(2), which grants federal courts broad discretion to order restitution as a condition of probation, and 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d), which extends that grant to supervised release, authorizes federal courts to order restitution as a condition of supervised release for any criminal offense, including those set forth in Title 26 (the IRS code), for which supervised release is properly imposed.

However, the Court concluded that Batson’s restitution had to be limited to the loss sustained by the government caused by the crimes she was convicted for. Because her crime did not involve a scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal activity, as she plead to one count of preparing fraudulent returns, the restitution imposed as a condition of probation was limited to the loss pertaining to that count.

The case is: United States v. Batson, 9th Cir; June 21, 2010; 09-50238