White-Collar Crime

Feds can apply convicted judge’s pension to his $2.9M restitution, court rules

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At least 25 percent of a convicted former Nevada judge’s more than $10,000-a-month pension can be applied to his $2.9 million restitution, a federal judge in Las Vegas ruled from the bench on Monday.

Prosecutors will put the money remaining after the garnishment into a prison account for Steven Jones and will seek to recoup additional funds from him later, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Jones, 58, a former family court judge in Clark County, is serving a 26-month prison term near Bakersfield, California, after his conviction for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors said he misused his position on the bench to support and shield his former brother-in-law during a decade-long fraud.

The Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada had argued that Jones’ permission was required under state law to access his pension, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in December.

In response, assistant U.S. attorney Mark Woolf contended in a court filing that no such permission is required under federal law, which trumps state law.

“The United States may step into Jones’ shoes and exercise whatever rights he has to his PERS account, including election of early distribution,” Woolf wrote. “The United States is not prevented from enforcing its lien rights to collect restitution under federal law by any state, and it is entitled to garnish Jones’ PERS account to satisfy his outstanding restitution obligations.”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Former judge gets 26 months in federal case over $2.9M investment scheme”

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