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United States v. Monzel

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 19, 2016




         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 10, 2009, Defendant Michael Monzel pled guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) and one count of possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B). On October 22, 2010, this Court found that Defendant's conduct was a proximate cause of the victim "Amy's" losses. [Dkt. No. 44]. On January 22, 2011, the Court ordered Defendant to pay $5, 000 in restitution to Amy. [Dkt. No. 50].

         On April 19, 2011, our Court of Appeals found that the restitution award to Amy was less than the harm the Defendant caused and remanded the case for reconsideration. United States v. Monzel, 641 F.3d 528 (D.C. Cir.), cert, denied, 132 S.Ct. 756 (2011) . Following remand, this Court issued an opinion on November 6, 2012, finding that the Government had failed to carry its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the amount of Amy's losses caused by Defendant, and therefore denied the Government's Supplemental Request for Restitution. [Dkt. No. 70]. On August 8, 2014, our Court of Appeals issued its mandate vacating this Court's November 6, 2012 Opinion denying additional restitution to Amy and further instructing this Court to re-determine restitution for Amy in a manner consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Paroline, 134 S.Ct. 1710 (2014). [Dkt. No. 91].

         This matter is again before the Court on the Government's Supplemental Motion for Restitution pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2259.

         II. Legal Standard

         In Paroline, the Supreme Court examined "how to determine the amount of restitution a possessor of child pornography must pay to the victim whose childhood abuse appears in [the] pornographic materials possessed." 134 S.Ct. at 1716. The Court held that restitution is "proper under § 2259 only to the extent the defendant's offense proximately caused a victim's losses." Id. at 1722. Proximate cause is a "flexible concept" that "generally refers to the basic requirement that . . . there must be some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged." Id. at 1719 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         " [W] here it can be shown both that a defendant possessed a victim's images and that a victim has outstanding losses caused by the continuing traffic in those images but where it is impossible to trace a particular amount of those losses to the individual defendant by recourse to a more traditional causal inquiry, a court applying § 2259 should order restitution in an amount that comports with the defendant's relative role in the causal process that underlies the victim's general losses." Id. at 1727 (emphasis added). However, the restitution amount should be neither "severe, " nor "token or nominal." Id. An award that is neither severe nor nominal "serve[s] the twin goals of helping the victim achieve eventual restitution for all her [or his] child-pornography losses and impressing upon offenders the fact that child-pornography crimes, even simple possession, affect real victims." Id.

         The Supreme Court did not adopt a formula for determining restitution in this type of case. Indeed, the Court said, "[t]his cannot be a precise mathematical inquiry and involves the use of discretion and sound judgment." Id. at 1728. To determine an appropriate restitution amount, the court must first determine "the amount of the victim's losses caused by the continuing traffic in the victim's images." Id. at 1728. After the court has determined the amount of the victim's total losses, the court must weigh several factors in determining the relative causal significance of the defendant's conduct in relation to the victim's total losses. The factors to be considered include:

the number of past criminal defendants found to have contributed to the victim's general losses; reasonable predictions of the number of future offenders likely to be caught and convicted for crimes contributing to the victim's general losses; any available and reasonably reliable estimate of the broader number of offenders involved (most of whom will, of course, never be caught or convicted); whether the defendant reproduced or distributed images of the victim; whether the defendant had any connection to the initial production of the images; how many images of the victim the defendant possessed; and other facts relevant to the defendant's relative causal role.

Id. at 1728.

         III. Analysis

         a. Amy's Losses

         In its first request for restitution, the Government estimated that Amy's total loss was $3, 263, 758 for medical services, lost income, attorney's fees, and other costs. See Dkt. No. 44 at 17. In the Government's second request for restitution, the Government maintained that loss amount (with the exception of reducing her claim for specific expenses by $20, 563). See Dkt. No. 7 0 at 1. In the instant motion, the Government makes an additional request for $8, 886, 300 for reduction in the ...

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