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United States v. Bellah

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 12, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSHUA DAVID BELLAH, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ERIC F. MELGREN, District Judge.

Defendant Joshua Bellah has been convicted of one count of transportation of child pornography. Eight victims seek restitution under 18 U.S.C. § 2259. This matter comes before the Court on the United States' Motion for Restitution (Doc. 32). Based on Bellah's relative role in causing damages to these victims, the Court grants the Government's motion as modified in this order for restitution in the amount of $45, 500 to be distributed among the eight victims.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

In May 2014, Defendant Joshua Bellah was sentenced to 150 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release for his conviction for transportation of child pornography. A determination of restitution was deferred to a later date. In October 2014, the Government filed a motion for an order of restitution, and a hearing was held in November. The matter is now before the Court.

II. Legal Standard

Under 18 U.S.C. § 2259, a district court is required to award restitution for certain federal criminal offenses, including offenses involving child pornography.[1] By statute, the issuance of a restitution order is mandatory, and district courts must order a defendant "to pay the victim (through the appropriate court mechanism) the full amount of the victim's losses as determined by the court."[2] The "full amount of the victim's losses" is statutorily defined to include any costs incurred by the victim for-

(A) medical services relating to physical, psychiatric, psychological care;
(B) physical and occupational therapy or rehabilitation;
(C) necessary transportation, temporary housing, and child care expenses;
(D) lost income;
(E) attorneys' fees, as well as other costs incurred; and
(F) any other losses suffered by the victim as a proximate result of the offense.[3]

In Paroline v. United States , the Supreme Court imposed a proximate causation standard: "Restitution is therefore proper under § 2259 only to the extent the defendant's offense proximately caused a victim's losses."[4] In an attempt to provide guidance to district courts determining an amount of mandatory restitution, the Court held that

where it can be shown both that a defendant possessed a victim's images and that a victim has outstanding losses caused by the continuing traffic in those images but where it is impossible to trace a particular amount of those losses to the individual defendant by recourse to a more traditional causal inquiry, a court applying § 2259 should order restitution in an amount that comports with ...

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