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United States v. France

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 7, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
GARY L. FRANCE, Defendant-Appellant

Argued: January 23, 2015.

Petition for certiorari filed at, 07/06/2015

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:00-cr-01061-1 -- Charles R. Norgle, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Joseph A. Stewart, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Theresa Duperon, Appellant: Kenneth M. Ducduong, Attorney, Kmd Law Office, Chicago, IL; Robert Pawel Groszek, Attorney, Paul Edward Peldyak, Attorney, Groszek Law Firm, Chicago, IL.

For Gary L. France, Defendant - Appellant: Kenneth M. Ducduong, Attorney, Kmd Law Office, Chicago, IL; Robert Pawel Groszek, Attorney, Groszek Law Firm, Chicago, IL.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and KANNE and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 821

Tinder, Circuit Judge.

In 2002, Dr. Gary France was ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution to victims of a fraudulent billing scheme he committed. By 2014, however, France had paid less than $11,000 toward that amount, so the government moved under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3613(a), to garnish monthly payments of $16,296 from France's privately purchased disability insurance policy. France maintains that these payments are at least partially exempt from garnishment, and his ex-wife, Theresa Duperon, seeks to exempt a portion of the payments that she receives for child support. The district court allowed the government to garnish the entire amount. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In the mid-1990s, France owned and operated a dental business in Chicago. During this time, he engaged in a lucrative scheme to fraudulently bill insurers for employees of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Transit Authority. For that scam, he pleaded guilty in April 2002 to mail fraud. See 18 U.S.C. § 1341. Meanwhile, in 1996, France closed his solo dental practice after being injured in a car accident and started collecting monthly benefits from a disability income policy he had purchased through his dental business. In 1999, he agreed to give a portion of these monthly payments, for a limited time, to Western United Life Insurance Company in exchange for a lump sum of more than $300,000. He then transferred this money into various accounts in the names of other people, including Duperon (his then-wife), before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in early 2000. He failed to disclose the lump sum payment or

Page 822

subsequent transfers in the bankruptcy petition and in fact made affirmative declarations concealing their existence. For that reason, at the same time he pleaded guilty to mail fraud, France pleaded guilty to knowingly making a false declaration under penalty of perjury. See 18 U.S.C. § 152(3).

In August 2002, the district court sentenced France to a total prison term of 30 months and ordered him to pay $800,000 in restitution to the City of Chicago Law Department and the Chicago Transit Authority. In September 2002, the government recorded notice of this lien in California, where France had relocated. Two months later, the trustee appointed in France's bankruptcy proceedings obtained an order giving the trustee title to ongoing payments from the disability insurance. (The Chapter 7 case began with the United States trustee serving as trustee for the estate, but later, in 2002, a private attorney was appointed as trustee, as is standard practice. See 28 U.S.C. § 586(a)(1) (requiring United States trustee to maintain a panel of private trustees for cases filed under Chapter 7); United States Trustee Program, About the Program, http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/ust_org/index.htm visited Mar. 13, 2015).)

In July 2003, France and Duperon divorced and reached a marital settlement under which Duperon was to receive payments for child support through 2019 from the disability insurance payments. The payments would increase up to $7,000 per ...


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