Court erred in ordering restitution beyond loss presented to jury when extent of loss was known at time of trial

Commonwealth v. Poplawski, 2017 PA Super 78 (March 24, 2017)

Mr. Poplawski was convicted under 73 P.S. § 517.8(a)(2), (c)(2) (“A violation of subsection (a)(2) constitutes: … (ii) a misdemeanor of the first degree if the amount of the payment retained is $2,000 or less…”) arising from a home improvement dispute where he failed to complete work he started. He was acquitted of charges of theft by deception, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 3922(a)(1), 4107(a)(2). He was later sentenced to 18 months probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $41,637.00. The restitution bill was based on the victim’s claim that he had to pay a second contractor $41.637.00 to complete the home improvement project after advancing payments to Mr. Poplawski, who did not complete the work. He appealed, challenging the legality of the restitution sentence.

While there are circumstances where restitution can exceed the amount proven at trial, in this case, all repairs necessary to correct and damage done by Mr. Poplawski’s were known and told by the jury. In these circumstances, the sentence could not exceed the amount of loss reflected by the jury’s verdict. The matter was remanded for imposition of a restitution sentence not exceeding $2000.

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