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United States v. Bengis

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20133
Nos. 1-03-cf-00308, (S.D.N.Y., 06/14/2013) (Kaplan, J.)

A district court ordered three men to pay South Africa $29.5 million in restitution for illegally harvesting and importing into the United States large quantities of West Coast rock lobsters from South African waters in violation of the Lacey Act. But because the men already paid $7 million to South Africa, the court reduced the total amount of restitution to $24.5 million. A magistrate judge had recommended that the men also pay $32.5 for illegally harvesting and importing South Coast rock lobsters, but there is no evidence that these lobsters were imported into the United States. Because there is no legal basis for awarding restitution to South Africa for lobsters taken in violation of South African law that neither was shipped to the United States nor taken for the purpose of its shipment to the United States, the court declined to follow the magistrate judge's recommendation in this regard. The Mandatory Victim Restitution Act does not permit, let alone require, restitution for conduct that does not offend U.S. law, however illegal it might have been under the laws of South Africa.