United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION TO DESIGNATE BETH ANN AND CLINT
CORSO AS VICTIMS (DOC. NO. 189
C. HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
April 20, 2005, defendant Stephen P. Corso
(“Corso”) entered a plea of guilty to one count
of wire fraud in violation of section 1343 of title 18 of the
United States Code and one count of attempted income tax
evasion in violation of section 7201 of title 26 of the
United States Code. See Minute Entry (Doc. No. 9).
Four years later, on February 3, 2009, the court sentenced
Corso to a term of imprisonment to be followed by supervised
release, and imposed a restitution obligation of $5, 446,
735. See Judgment (Doc. No. 73). A separate
Restitution Order entered shortly after Corso’s
sentencing proceeding specifying the amount of restitution
Corso owes to individual victims, as well as the schedule on
which Corso is obligated to make restitution payments.
See Restitution Order (Doc. No. 74).
February 17, 2016, the government filed a Motion seeking the
disbursement of funds held in the Registry of the Court to
individual victims pursuant to the Restitution Order.
See United States’ Mot. for Disbursement of
Funds (“Mot. to Disburse”) at 1-2 (Doc. No. 155).
After the government’s Motion was filed, Corso’s
former wife, Beth Ann Corso (“Mrs. Corso”) wrote
a series of letters to the court asking the court to grant
her a priority distribution of the funds held in the Registry
of the Court for child support and alimony arrearages owed to
her by Corso. See, e.g., Letter from Beth Ann Corso
to Judge Hall (Doc. No. 166). In support of her request, Mrs.
Corso invoked section 3205(c)(8) of title 28 of the United
States Code, which provides that “[j]udicial orders and
garnishments for the support of a person shall have priority
over a writ of garnishment issued under this section.”
Id. After receiving Mrs. Corso’s letters and
at the government’s urging, the court allowed Mrs.
Corso to appear pro se in this case as an
“interested person” pursuant to section 3202(c)
of title 28 of the United States Code. See Order
(Doc. No. 161).
several rounds of briefing and an oral argument, the court
ruled on the government’s Motion to Disburse (Doc. No.
155) on June 14, 2016. Although the court is sympathetic to
Mrs. Corso, the court ultimately concluded that she is not
entitled to a priority distribution of the funds held by the
court because section 3205(c)(8) of title 28 of the United
States Code conflicts with the Mandatory Victims Restitution
Act (“MVRA”), and therefore does not apply to
this case. See Ruling (Doc. No. 180). The court
ordered that the entire balance of funds held in the Registry
of the Court be distributed to Corso’s individual
victims pursuant to the Restitution Order. See id.
entry of the court’s Ruling, Mrs. Corso requested-and
the court granted-several stays of its execution while Mrs.
Corso sought legal advice concerning whether she should file
an appeal. See Order (Doc. No. 182); Order (Doc. No.
187); Order (Doc. No. 190). But instead of filing a Notice of
Appeal, on July 22, 2016, Mrs. Corso, still acting pro
se, filed a Motion that requests the designation of Mrs.
Corso and her son, Clint Corso, as victims of Corso’s
criminal conduct who are entitled to a portion of the funds
held in the Registry of the Court as restitution.
See Mot. to Request the Designation of Beth Ann
Corso and Clint Gian Carlo Brant Corso as Victims of the
Crimes of Stephen P. Corso Entitled to Share in the Funds
Currently Held in Escrow in Criminal Case No. 3:05-CR-105
(JCH) (“Victim Designation Mot.”) (Doc. No. 189).
The government filed an opposition to Mrs. Corso’s
Motion on July 28, 2016. See United States’
Mem. in Opp. to Interested Party Beth Corso’s Mot. to
be Designated as a Victim (“Gov’t’s
Opp.”) (Doc. No. 192). Mrs. Corso did not file a Reply
within the time period afforded by the court.
reasons that follow, the court now DENIES Mrs. Corso’s
Victim Designation Motion (Doc. No. 189).
court has already noted, the court has been, and remains,
sympathetic to Mrs. Corso’s situation, which she has
expressed ably and persuasively in her filings and at oral
argument in this case. However, Mrs. Corso is not legally
entitled to the relief she seeks, and therefore the court
must deny her Motion.
as the government notes, Mrs. Corso is appearing pro
se in this matter, which means she lacks standing to
assert claims on behalf of her son, Clint Corso. See
Iannaccone v. Law, 142 F.3d 553, 558 (2d Cir. 1998)
(“[B]ecause pro se means to appear for
one’s self, a person may not appear on another
person’s behalf in the other’s cause.”);
Cheung v. Youth Orchestra Foundation of Buffalo,
Inc., 906 F.2d 59, 61 (2d Cir. 1990) (“[A]
non-attorney parent must be represented by counsel in
bringing an action on behalf of his or her child.”).
Thus, any portion of Mrs. Corso’s Motion that requests
relief on behalf of her son must be denied.
Mrs. Corso’s request for relief on her own behalf fails
as a matter of law. The MVRA defines “victim” as
“a person directly and proximately harmed as a result
of the commission of an offense for which restitution may be
ordered.” 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2). As the
government points out, the Second Circuit has held that,
“[a]lthough the definition of victim is certainly
broad, in determining whether one qualifies as a victim, a
sentencing court can only consider the offense or offenses
for which the defendant was convicted.” United
States v. Battista, 575 F.3d 226, 231 (2d Cir.
2009). In other words, “[s]ection
3663A(a)(1) does not authorize the court to order a defendant
to pay restitution to any person who was not a victim of the
offense of which the defendant was convicted, ”
United States v. Reifler, 446 F.3d 65, 121 (2d Cir.
2006), because “[t]he loss caused by the conduct
underlying the offense of conviction establishes the outer
limits of a restitution order, ” Battista, 575
F.3d at 231 (quoting Hughey v. United States, 495
U.S. 411, 420 (1990)). This limitation on restitution orders
is necessitated by the plain language of the MVRA, which only
authorizes courts to order a defendant to pay restitution
“to the victim of the offense.” 18
U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(1) (emphasis added).
case, the offense conduct for which Corso was sentenced-and
for which the Restitution Order entered-was wire fraud and
tax evasion committed from January 1997 through June 2002.
See Stipulation of Offense Conduct at 1 (Doc. No.
6). Mrs. Corso is not listed among the victims who suffered
losses from these offenses in the Stipulation of Offense
Conduct filed contemporaneously with Corso’s plea
agreement, see id. at 2, and Mrs. Corso’s
Motion does not argue that her absence from this list is an
oversight on the government’s part, see Victim
Designation Mot. (Doc. No. 189). Rather, Mrs. Corso argues
that she should be added to the list of victims in the
Restitution Order because she has been victimized by
separate, allegedly unlawful conduct undertaken by Corso in
the years following the offense conduct for which he was
convicted. See id. at 2-3 (stating that Clint and
Mrs. Corso “have been and continue to be victims of Mr.
Corso’s criminal conduct through his nonpayment of
court ordered alimony and tuition”). Because this
conduct falls well outside the scope of the offense conduct
for which the court could properly order restitution pursuant
to the MVRA, the court cannot order that Mrs. Corso be
designated a victim in this case. See Battista, 575
F.3d at 231; Reifler, 446 F.3d at 121.
foregoing reasons, Mrs. Corso’s Victim Designation