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United States v. Simpson-El

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

May 17, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KAPPELLE SIMPSON-EL, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (D.C. No. 6:07-CR-10161-JMT-1)

          David M. Magariel, Assistant Federal Public Defender (Melody Brannon, Federal Public Defender, with him on the briefs), Office of the Federal Public Defender, Kansas City, Kansas, for Appellant Kappelle Simpson-El.

          Jared S. Maag, Assistant United States Attorney (Thomas E. Beall, Acting United States Attorney, and Tanya Sue Wilson, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), Office of the United States Attorney, District of Kansas, Topeka, Kansas, for Appellee United States of America.

          Before LUCERO and BACHARACH, Circuit Judges. [*]

          BACHARACH, Circuit Judge.

         This appeal involves a criminal defendant's obligation to pay restitution to the victims. A restitution payment schedule can be modified when the defendant's economic circumstances materially change. Here the criminal defendant obtained a cash settlement growing out of a tort action against the federal government. With this settlement, the district court had to decide whether the defendant's circumstances materially changed. The district court answered "yes" and applied most of the settlement funds to the restitution obligation. The defendant appeals, and we affirm.

         1. The Restitution Order and the Settlement

         The defendant owing restitution is Mr. Kapelle Simpson-El, who was convicted of crimes involving the sale of stolen cars. His sentence included a restitution obligation of $432, 930.00. Since obtaining release, Mr. Simpson-El has paid at least 5% of his gross monthly income toward restitution.

         Mr. Simpson-El was injured while serving his prison sentence at a federal prison. The injury was allegedly exacerbated by inadequate medical attention and a lack of treatment, leading Mr. Simpson-El to sue the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act. After obtaining release from prison, Mr. Simpson-El settled with the government for $200, 000.

         2. The District Court's Ruling and Mr. Simpson-El's Arguments

         The government sought modification of the restitution order based on a material change in economic circumstances, requesting an order for Mr. Simpson-El to pay the entire $200, 000 as restitution. The district court granted the motion in part, applying $145, 640 of the settlement funds toward restitution. Mr. Simpson-El makes two arguments on appeal:

1. The district court erred in finding that the settlement funds constituted a "material change in economic circumstances" under 18 U.S.C. § 3664(k).
2. The district court improperly applied 18 U.S.C. ยง ...

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