May 28, 2014
On May 5, 2014, The Supreme Court announced its decision in Robers v. United States. This case involves the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996, which requires one who has obtained property fraudulently to return it or (if return is not possible) pay “an amount equal to . . .the value of the property” less “the value (as of the date the property is returned) of any part of the property that is returned.” The question here is whether a defendant who fraudulently obtained a loan, for which he provided a mortgage as collateral, returned “any part of the property” when his lenders foreclosed on the mortgage.
In a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court held that the statutory phrase “any part of the property” refers only to the specific property lost by the victim, which in the case of a fraudulently obtained loan is the money lent. Thus, no part of the property is returned until the collateral is sold and the victim receives money from the sale. Thus, any amount due is reduced not by the value of the collateral when the victim received it, but by the value of the proceeds the victim received when the collateral was sold. The decision of the Seventh Circuit was affirmed. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion, which Justice Ginsburg joined.
To discuss the case, we have Peter Thomson, who is a partner at Fowler Rodriguez.