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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Unfair settlement. The Government, in the course of criminal proceeding, entered into a settlement agreement with members of the Rigas family. Under the agreement, the Rigases would forfeit certain assets and all victims of their crimes would be discharged. Certain victims protested, claiming that the settlement would foreclose them from getting full restitution in ongoing civil actions, which they claim to be entitled to under the Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004 ("CVRA"). The Second Circuit noted that, under the Manditory Victim Restitution Act ("MVRA"), victims are not entitled to restitution if there are too many victims or if the factual issues are so complex that determining the cause or the amount of a victim's loss would unduly prolong the sentencing process. In this case, both exceptions to required restitution under the MVRA, were applicable. Also, in light of the complex issues of culpability of the individuals and because of the security ineterest affecting the Rigases assets, the victims could not meet their burden in showing that the Government or the district court had acted unreasonabley in entering into the Settlement Agreeement or approving it. The decision in In re W. R. Huff Asset Management Co. can be found here.

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