Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Sheffield: Vacating Restitution Award in Tax Fraud Case Based on Spreadsheet Containing Duplicate Entries

In United States v. Sheffield, No. 17-13682 (Oct. 1, 2019) (Jordan, Tjoflat, Anderson), the Court vacated the restitution order.

In this fraudulent tax return case, the restitution amount should have been easy to calculate because each return triggered a refund of $1,000.  In this case, where the loss amount is definite and easy to calculate, the government could not rely on a reasonable estimate.  But rather than simply multiply the returns, the government introduced a spreadsheet, which contained duplicative entries that were not removed.  Although the duplicates were likely only a small portion of the overall award, the Court nonetheless vacated the award because the defendant had a right not to be sentenced on the basis of inaccurate or unreliable information.