Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Singletary: Guess not enough to support restitution calculation

In U.S. v. Singletary, No. 09-13892 (Aug. 15, 2011), the Court vacated a $ 1 million restitution order in a mortgage fraud case, because the district court failed to support this order with specific factual findings.

The Court pointed out that, unlike the amount of “loss” under the Sentencing Guidelines, which is determined using the greater of actual loss or intended loss, restitution must be based “on the loss the victim actually suffered.” The Court noted that at sentencing and restitution hearings, the government failed to establish the amount of the mortgage losses to the Federal Housing Authority (“FHA”). Further, the district court stated it might make a “reasonably intelligent guess” of the restitution amount, when in fact it was required to make specific factual findings.

The Court therefore vacated the restitution order and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court instructed that on remand the government “is not receiving another bite at the apple.” The district court was instructed to calculate restitution based on “the evidentiary record as it now exists.”