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United States v. Volpendesto

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 6, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SAMUEL VOLPENDESTO, Defendant-Appellant

Argued December 11, 2013

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 08 CR 115-2 -- Ronald A. Guzmá n, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Amarjeet Singh Bhachu, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Samuel Volpendesto, Defendant - Appellant: Beau B. Brindley, Attorney, Blair T. Westover, Attorney, Law Offices of Beau B. Brindley, Chicago, IL.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and SYKES, Circuit Judges. SYKES, Circuit Judge, concurring.

OPINION

Page 449

Wood, Chief Judge

Samuel Volpendesto's career in organized crime finally caught up to him at the age of 87. Wheelchair-bound and in poor health, he heard the jury return guilty verdicts against him on four counts: racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit arson, arson, and use of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence. The district court sentenced Volpendesto to prison, entered a forfeiture judgment, and ordered him to pay $547,597 in criminal restitution to the victims of his crimes.

Volpendesto appealed, but he died before we could hear his case. The difficult

Page 450

question we confront, which has divided our sister circuits, is whether a restitution order that is part of a criminal judgment survives when the defendant dies before his appeal can be resolved. We conclude that Volpendesto's death mooted his case and thus the criminal restitution order abates along with everything else covered by the judgment.

I

Volpendesto was the elder statesman of an organized crime operation in West Chicago. His organization, led by Michael Sarno, made money through illegal gambling and jewelry store robberies. He was tried along with four codefendants, including his son Anthony Volpendesto, on a four-count indictment. The jury convicted him on all counts. The details of the gang's crimes are discussed in our opinion resolving the codefendants' appeals. See United States v. Volpendesto et al., 746 F.3d 273 (7th Cir. 2014). Here we mention only the facts that are essential for the present appeal.

To maintain its territorial control over illegal gambling, the enterprise once detonated a bomb at a competitor's business, causing losses for the building's owner Richard Slejza and his insurer. The district court found that Volpendesto owed $46,124 to Slejza and the insurer in restitution for this crime. The enterprise's exploits also included heists from Ram Creations jewelry store in Novi, Michigan, and Lenna Jewelers in Hinsdale, Illinois. Volpendesto acted as the getaway driver for these robberies, both of which also led to restitution orders: $256,721 for Ram Creations' owner Narender Agarwal and his insurer, and $244,752 for the owner of Lenna Jewelers, Lynne Friedman, and her insurer. These three items resulted in a total ...


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