Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Justice done, compassion loses, in recall of restitution payments made by Aloun Farms defendants
by Larry Geller
At a 10:30 hearing this morning. Judge Susan Oki Mollway ordered approximately $192,000 in restitution payments held by the court returned to the Aloun Farms brothers. The restitution was to be paid out by the court to Thai workers allegedly trafficked by the brothers, under a plea agreement that Judge Mollway threw out.
Compassion took a back seat this morning. Returning the money to the Sous was the correct decision, but leaves the workers in trouble. For some, it would have been their airplane ticket back to Thailand and repayment of at least part of their debt.
The federal court itself bears a great responsibility for the “recall” of the restitution payments. The bureaucracy sat on the checks instead of distributing them, so that the money was on hand to be repaid to the Sou brothers. Had they been prompt in executing their duty, the checks would have been distributed and cashed and not easily retrievable.
The Sou brothers, in the absence of their plea agreement, are presumed innocent until found guilty, and so the repayment was appropriate. Watch for another plea agreement. If there should be one, perhaps it will include restitution.