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Name: People v. Mozes
Case #: B221020
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 02/17/2011

Under Penal Code section 186.11, a white-collar crime victim has priority to seized assets over that of a claimant seeking child support. Penal Code section 186.11 permits the court in certain white-collar criminal cases to take possession of assets under a defendant’s control and preserve them for payment of restitution. In this case, Mozes was convicted by his guilty plea to 17 counts of theft by false pretenses. The court granted the prosecution’s petition, pursuant to Penal Code section 186.11, to preserve Mozes’ assets for restitution purposes, preventing him or his agents from withdrawing, disbursing, or disposing of them. Mozes’ former wife and one-time associate in the business in question, Brown, filed a response to the prosecution’s subsequent request for distribution of the assets to the crime victims, contending that her claims for child support should receive priority over victim restitution. The court disagreed, finding that Brown was not an innocent third party for purposes of section 186.11 and that she did not have a legitimately-acquired interest in the assets. Although the court could grant priority for a child support order, it could do so only if the claimant establishes that he/she is an innocent third party with a legitimately-acquired interest in the seized assets.