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United States v. Hunter

August 20, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BECKY NADINE HUNTER, AKA REBEKAH A. HUNTER, AKA REBECCA A. HUNTER, AKA ANN R. HUNTER, AKA REBEKAH A. SMITH, AKA BECKY NADINE SMITH, AKA REBEKAH NADINE CARDEN, AKA REBEKAH NADINE SMITH, AKA REBECCA A. BENNETT, AKA REBEKAH AN NADINE BENNETT HUNTER, AKA REBEKAH ANN HUNTER, AKA REBEKAH NADINE PRATT, AKA REBECCA SMITH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Alaska Ralph R. Beistline, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CR-4-00002-RRB.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Murray Snow, District Judge

FOR PUBLICATION

Argued and Submitted March 9, 2010 -- Seattle, Washington.

Before: Raymond C. Fisher and Marsha S. Berzon, Circuit Judges, and G. Murray Snow, District Judge.*fn1

OPINION

Defendant-Appellant Becky Nadine Hunter ("Hunter") appeals the district court's order awarding restitution to two of her former employers. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.*fn2

BACKGROUND

On June 19, 2009, Hunter was sentenced for committing various federal crimes, including five counts of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. Hunter's mail fraud convictions arose from a series of false documents she mailed for the purpose of obtaining employment as a nurse.

Hunter moved to Alaska in 1998, where she stole the identity of a registered nurse and used it to obtain a nursing license. She used the fake license, along with a false employment history, address, and identity to obtain employment as a nurse. She was then hired as a school nurse by Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in September 1998. During her employment with North Star Borough, Hunter was paid a total of $12,558 in wages and benefits. After North Star Borough discovered Hunter's false identity and fired her, Hunter used a similar set of false documents to obtain a nursing position with the United States Department of Labor. During her employment as a nurse with the Department of Labor, Hunter was paid $5,457.

In 2004, Hunter was arrested after an FBI investigation uncovered additional fraudulent conduct. Following a successful appeal of her original sentence, see United States v. Hunter, 286 F. App'x 482, 483 (9th Cir. 2008), Hunter was resentenced to ninety-six months incarceration and ordered to pay $12,558 in restitution to North Star Borough and $5,547 in restitution to the Department of Labor.

DISCUSSION

Hunter challenges the restitution to Northstar Borough and the Department of Labor on the basis that these employers will receive windfalls if she is required to repay wages for work she actually performed. We disagree.

[1] The Mandatory Victims Restitution Act ("MVRA") requires courts to order restitution to victims of certain criminal offenses, such as mail fraud. See 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(c). The "purpose of restitution" under the MVRA, however, is not to punish the defendant, but to "make the victim[ ] whole" again by restoring to him or her the value of the losses suffered as a result of the defendant's crime. United States v. Crandall, 525 F.3d 907, 916 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v. Gordon, 393 F.3d 1044, 1052 n. 6 (9th Cir. 2004)).

The amount of restitution, therefore, "is limited to the victim's actual losses." United States v. Bussell, 504 F.3d 956, 964 (9th Cir. 2007); see also Crandall, 525 F.3d at 916. "[A]ctual loss for restitution purposes is determined by comparing what actually happened with what would have happened if the defendant had acted lawfully." Bussell, 504 F.3d at 964 (quotations and brackets omitted). We review the district court's application of the MVRA and its conclusion that Hunter's employers were victims of her crimes de novo. United States v. De La ...


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