Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Materia Girls

United States v. Ojeikere, No. 07-1970-cr (2d Cir. October 7, 2008) (Newman, Winter, Calabresi, CJJ)

Defendant Ojeikere was convicted of participating in an “advance fee” scheme the tricked its victims into sending money to the defendant and his confederates to release “large sums of money supposedly held in Nigeria.”

On appeal, he challenged the restitution order, which was nearly $700,000. He claimed that his “victims,” although they suffered losses, had hands too dirty to claim restitution, since they all participated in what they believed was a fraudulent scheme to obtain money from Nigeria. The court agreed with Ojeikere in principle only – restitution is not appropriate where the victims are, in effect, co-conspirators.

But restitution “may not be denied simply because the victim had greedy or dishonest motives.” It should only be denied where the victims’ intentions were in pari materia with those of the defendant. Because Ojeikere did not demonstrate that his victims lost ill-gotten gains “or that they were in pari materia with” his scheme, restitution was appropriate.

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