Evan Louis Greebel, the former lawyer who was convicted in a fraud scheme with so-called “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, has asked the Supreme Court to shield his retirement accounts from a $10,447,979.00 restitution order.
Greebel, a former partner at law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman, was a member of the legal team Skhreli berated for being “lazy and stupid and paid too much” when Greebel did not assist Shkreli quickly enough in defrauding investors.
In 2017, Greebel was convicted for securities fraud and later sentenced to 18 months in prison for his involvement in Shkreli’s scheme to defraud pharmaceutical company Retrophin, Inc. to pay off family debts. Shkreli also garnered national attention for his “unconscionable,” in the words of one litigant, drug price hikes and the resulting multi-million dollar penalties.
In the 41-page petition for certiorari filed with SCOTUS Wednesday, Greebel’s lawyers argue that because the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) limits the amount the government can seize to 25% of a person’s “earnings,” his retirement account should be safe.
The legal question — one for which Greebel’s lawyers say SCOTUS should resolve a circuit split — is just what “earnings” means under the CCPA. Greebel argues that his 401(k) is part of his “earnings.” On that basis, Greebel says, its value should be included when calculating the 25% cap on restitution seizures.
In August 2022, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit flatly disagreed with Greebel on this issue.
The panel consisted of U.S. Circuit Judges Joseph Bianco, a Donald Trump appointee; Richard Wesley, a George W. Bush appointee; and Myrna Pérez, a Joe Biden appointee.
Judge Wesley wrote for the panel, “Nothing suggests Congress intended the CCPA to protect lump-sum liquidations of retirement accounts, which are often invested for decades, from being used to cover restitution obligations arising out of criminal convictions.”
In Greebel’s petition to SCOTUS, his lawyers argue that the 2nd Circuit’s decision must be corrected “to protect against overreach by creditors so that individuals and their families can continue to ‘meet basic needs.'” Much of his argument is grounded in what a favorable ruling might mean for other people.
Greebel said his case is important because “a majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, leaving little room to save money and creating an increased dependency on employer retirement accounts, like 401(k)s.” Given the importance of retirement accounts, Greebel says the justices should clarify that they are indeed “earnings.”
The petition goes on to argue that the high court’s ruling “will uniquely affect vulnerable populations,” including disabled, low-income, and minority populations. “Without a cap on garnishment, individuals and families who are already struggling could be thrust deeper into poverty,” Greebel argues.
Greebel’s attorney declined to comment on the case.
[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]
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