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Fraudster’s 401(k) Can Be Used for Restitution


Evan Greebel, pharma bro Martin Shkreli’s lawyer and co-conspirator, lost his bid to protect his 401(k) from garnishment to pay restitution to his victims.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, effectively ending Greebel’s quest to keep his retirement plan free from a $10.4 million judgment found by a lower court.

Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical executive, and Greebel, acting as his outside counsel, were convicted of defrauding investors in a drug company. In 2018, the latter was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Prosecutors wanted access to $921,000 to help recover some of the funds.

Greebel's lawyers argued that the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) allowed for no more than 25% of the retirement account to be used for such a purpose.

“This case cleanly presents an issue of significant importance—prosecutorial overreach via the seizure of private property beyond the limits set by Congress—on which the courts of appeals, and the Executive Branch, are split,” they added.

Prosecutors countered that because he’s a convicted felon, he is not subject to CCPA protection.

“The CCPA generally provides that no more than 25% of an individual’s ‘disposable earnings’ may be garnished for payment of a debt,” they wrote in a petition to deny a Supreme Court review. “The CCPA’s limitation on garnishment applies in proceedings brought by the United States to enforce a criminal restitution order. The question presented is whether a lump-sum distribution from an individual’s contributory 401(k) retirement account qualifies as ‘earnings’ under the CCPA, thereby limiting the government’s ability to liquidate the funds in such an account to satisfy a restitution order.”

The answer is no, they argued, and the High Court declined to accept the case.

Shkreli gained notoriety in 2015 when he increased the price of the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750, drawing widespread condemnation.