Submitted: September 25, 2018
Appeals from United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Arkansas - Little Rock
COLLOTON, BEAM, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.
convicted Anthony Waits and Jacqueline Mills after a trial in
a fraud case. The district court sentenced Waits and Mills to
175 and 150 months' imprisonment, respectively, and
entered forfeiture orders against them. On appeal, Waits and
Mills challenge their convictions, and Waits also challenges
his term of imprisonment and forfeiture order. We affirm the
convictions and Waits's term of imprisonment. We vacate
the forfeiture order against Waits and remand for further
proceedings on that issue.
United States Department of Agriculture's Food and
Nutrition Service provides federal funding to after-school
and summer programs that serve food to children in low-income
areas. The agency acts through the Child and Adult Care
Feeding Program, which includes an At-Risk Afterschool
component, and the Summer Food Service Program.
Arkansas, the Department of Human Services administers these
programs. An organization in Arkansas must receive approval
from the Department to become a sponsor who participates in a
feeding program. A sponsor may serve snacks or meals to
eligible children and receive reimbursement from the
Department for the food served. As a condition of
participation, a sponsor must follow the Department's
regulations governing feeding programs, including those that
require keeping and maintaining records related to the
and Mills were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud
related to their involvement with these feeding programs. The
jury also found Mills guilty of multiple substantive counts
of wire fraud, bribery of an agent of a program receiving
federal funds, and money laundering.
to evidence at trial, Mills participated in the programs as a
sponsor and claimed inflated or fabricated reimbursements for
more than thirty sites. To avoid scrutiny of her false
claims, she paid money to Department officials in exchange
for approval of her programs and help in avoiding detection.
Waits was not a program sponsor, but he recruited others to
become sponsors. Waits helped others to claim fraudulent
reimbursements and to create receipts that supported their
false claims. He then collected a share of the profits of the
jury convicted Waits and Mills, the district court sentenced
them to 175 and 150 months' imprisonment, respectively.
The court also ordered Waits to forfeit a personal money
judgment of $3, 316, 280.85, based on the gross amount that
he and his co-conspirators received from their participation
in the conspiracy.
and Mills first argue that the district court erred in
rejecting their proposed theory-of-defense instructions. We
review the district court's rulings for abuse of
discretion. United States v. Christy, 647 F.3d 768,
770 (8th Cir. 2011).
proposed instruction stated: "Anthony Leon Waits submits
that he did not voluntarily or intentionally agree or
conspire with anyone to commit the crime of wire fraud.
Furthermore, he denies that he had knowledge of any
agreement, plan or scheme to commit wire fraud." The
proposal then stated that the burden of proof is always on