Federal Court Overturns $5.4 Million Restitution Order against Former Lawyer

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Federal Court Overturns $5.4 Million Restitution Order against Former Lawyer
On Monday, a $5.4 million restitution order against former lawyer Kenneth Carnesi was vacated by U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt, who held that the 2005 restitution order violated provisions of the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act of 1996.

Carnesi was a former attorney and president of business consulting firms convicted of a money laundering conspiracy. However, the federal court found that the government had provided evidence insufficient to identify victims of his alleged fraud and about the amounts they had lost. Under the circumstances, the federal court vacated the restitution order.

In his order, Judge Spatt observed, “In this case, the government has continually failed to produce evidence that would satisfy the requirements pertaining to identification of victims and accounting of their respective losses as required under the MVRA.”

In 2004, Carnesi was charged with running a long-term scheme to defraud European small businesses by selling worthless securities and insurance policies, and then laundering the profits through accounts in both U.S. and Europe.

He was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $5.4 million in restitution after his release, following his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

However, in 2006, Carnesi filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the restitution order and submitting that the government did not comply with the law of restitution as it failed to provide a list of victims and the amounts they had lost. However, the writ petition was rejected on the grounds that a habeas petition could not be used to ask for such remedy.

In 2011, Carnesi filed a writ of error coram nobis under the All Writs Act. The government opposed the petition and submitted that federal agents had identified at least 70 victims, though it failed to provide the list.

Judge Spatt, in absence of a list of identified victims and their losses, vacated the order of restitution giving the government another 60 days to submit required evidence to the court.

The case is Carnesi v. United States, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, No. 11-1044.

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