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Government Wants Federal Prisoner’s $250,000 Settlement to Pay Restitution

by Dale Chappell

A federal prisoner who won a $250,000 settlement against the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), following an injury that required surgery and a month-long hospital stay, is fighting government lawyers who want that money to go toward restitution.

Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, 67, slipped and fell at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn in August 2013, busting his knee cap. The fall landed him in the hospital for a month and required surgery. [See: PLN, Sept. 2017, p.63].

After filing a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the BOP eventually settled with Gioeli for $250,000. That was after the court found that Gioeli was 50 percent liable for his injuries, because he knew the floor was wet and could have avoided it.

Gioeli was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison in 2012, after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to commit murder when he was a “captain of all captains” in the Colombo crime family in the mid-2000s. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay $365,000 in restitution to a bank and fur store, which he had been paying at $25 per quarter. Now the government wants his $250,000 settlement to pay down the remaining restitution he owes.

But Gioeli is fighting back. Acting pro se, he filed an 83-page pleading in court arguing that the government was not entitled to take the money he won for his injury. He claimed that because the jury did not convict him of certain robberies, and because he was never charged in other crimes, his restitution order should be modified to exclude the financial losses stemming from those incidents.

Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, say the government should get to keep the settlement funds. “The fact that Gioeli has received a judgment stemming from a personal injury does not entitle him to a modification of the restitution judgment,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in response to Gioeli’s filings. The government argued the unconvicted and uncharged criminal conduct was proven by a “preponderance of the evidence” – a lower standard than that required for a conviction – which was good enough to require Gioeli to pay the financial losses in those crimes, even absent a conviction. “It is irrelevant if the jury found either of those particular acts not proven,” prosecutors wrote.

The case remains pending in Brooklyn federal court. 



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