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I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Phaedra, Apollo & the $1.9M Restitution Mess  

Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.

Apollo

British rocker Mick Jagger and Real Housewives of Atlanta’s, Apollo E. Nida have something in common: Neither the hip-swinging Rolling Stones frontman nor the reality star’s dozens of victims can get satisfaction even if they try and try and try and try.

The Restitution Order

The estranged husband of RHOA’s Phaedra Parks will begin serving an eight-year prison sentence on September 10 at the FMC Lexington prison as a result of his four-year plot involving bank, mail and wire fraud, and identity theft. Apollo filed fraudulent tax returns with the IRS and made duplicitous claims against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and at least 11 states, all in the names of victims whose identities had been stolen. 

The 35-year-old reality star has been ordered to pay restitution to the victims of his various crimes, including the State of California, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Delta Airlines Inc., and the U.S. Treasury, in the amount of $1,948,214.85.  Restitution is typically ordered for direct, out-of-pocket expenses only, which here might include deductible amounts required for insurance coverage and reimbursement due to theft or fraudulent use of monetary funds.  

Below is a complete summary of Apollo Nida’s Restitution owed:

Apollo Nida Restitution Order - Watermark Apollo Nida Restitution Order 2 - Watermark Apollo Nida Restitution Order 3 - Watermark

Apollo’s restitution is “due and payable immediately,” as per court documents.  Any money the certified fitness trainer makes in prison will be paid directly to the restitution fund.  Any portion of the criminal monetary debt that remains unpaid at the time he is released shall be paid at the monthly rate of at least $250.00 plus 25% of gross monthly income in excess of $2,300, according to the order signed July 16.  The restitution fine has also been hit with a lien ordering Apollo to have the full amount paid off within 20 years.  If it is not, the interest on the lien will be raised to 25% of the principal amount.  

Some are left to ponder how a swindler could fool his victims out of staggering $2.3M and be forced to pay a fraction of that back.  I suppose the court, like Neiman Marcus or the Gap, was having a midsummer clearance sale and decided to give Apollo a discount worth more than $350,000. 

The Unsatisfactory Truth About Restitution Orders

Restitution fines, like Kenya Moore’s botched prop theatrics on the Season 6 reunion, have more bark than bite. Restitution remains one of the most underenforced aspects of the criminal justice system. 

Equally alarming is the fact courts lower restitution judgments frequently in cases where the judge is convinced the criminal party would be unable to afford paying the entire restitution judgment.  Will Apollo’s restitution order be modified, much to the chagrin of the State of New York and Georgia’s Own Credit Union?  

The Woman Behind the Man: Phaedra Parks

At first blush, it appears Apollo, who is worth a reported $250,000, cannot satisfy the nearly $2M restitution judgment. Phaedra Parks, however, is a well-known entertainment lawyer whose net worth is an estimated $2M.  The legal eagle stars in a popular television show for which she purportedly receives $300,000 a season; her home in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna is listed for $349,900; and the no holds barred attorney regularly transports her wares in pricey Gucci handbags.  A pauper she is not. 

While there are rumors Phaedra is divorcing the father of her two young sons to escape having to help pay back his nearly $2M restitution penalty, the former Fox News legal analyst can run but can she can’t hide. In a criminal case, the government has the right to tap into an innocent spouse’s assets to pay restitution, regardless of whether the spouse knew of the criminal activities. Numerous courts have also held that where the innocent spouse benefitted from a spouse’s wrongdoing, he or she would ultimately have to make restitution of funds received. (Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme victims had a claim on assets shared with his wife, Ruth Madoff, which were purchased with ill-gotten gains.)

Phaedra Parks is no dummy (as can be gleaned from the numerous accolades strategically advertised on her law firm’s website) but smart people do stupid things.  If she had any reason to believe Apollo engaged in misconduct during the marriage, she should have consulted with the government before criminal damages were incurred.  Doing so could have limited her financial liability.  Now, it may be too late.  

Satisfaction?

Some of Apollo’s victims might also look to their insurance carriers and/or third parties to help satisfy the judgment. Many states authorize restitution to any entity that has provided recovery to the wounded as a collateral source, such as victim compensation programs, government bodies, and victim service agencies. 

JudgmentMarketplace.com, which is like the eBay of unpaid judgments, gives creditors an online forum to sell uncollected debts. For instance, the website lists the $9M wrongful death judgment against O.J. Simpson on behalf of Ronald Goldman’s mother, who is asking for at least $1M. The judgment has accumulated more than $15M in interest, according to the site. 

Sources report Apollo has gathered a team of writers to help him craft a tell-all autobiography ahead of his imminent incarceration. However, in the event he receives an advance of $4,000 to $10,000, he will have to pay that money back.  (Just what Apollo needs, another creditor looking over his shoulder.) Any publisher that offers Apollo a contract where he will collect 10 to 15% royalties off each sale is the equivalent of $1.25 to $2.50 per book. Therefore he better include truckloads of salacious material if his victims have any hope of seeing a dime from his forthcoming book sales.

The future does not look peachy for Phaedra, Apollo, or Apollo’s victims. Grab your gavel, use your commonsense, and join the conversation.  You be the judge and tell me what you think about this $1.9M mess.   

 

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