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42 U.S.C.S. § 1320a-7b(b) does not does not constitute a special exception to the willfulness requirement.
Defendants, who were convicted in a federal district court under the anti-kickback provision of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 1320a-7b, appealed their convictions, alleging that the district court committed reversible error when it refused to instruct the jury that under § 1320a-7b, they had to have known that their medical referrals arrangement violated § 1320a-7b in order to be convicted. Defendants also alleged that § 1320a-7b was unconstitutionally vague. The government cross-appealed, alleging that one of the defendants was not entitled to the reduced sentence he received.
Did the district court err by refusing to instruct the jury concerning the relevant mens rea?
The court affirmed the judgment, holding that the jury was correctly instructed because § 1320a-7b did not constitute a special exception to the requirement of willfulness, the instructions given the jury were sufficient to inform the jurors so that they understood the issues and were not misled, and that § 1320a-7b was not vague because it defined the offense with sufficient clarity to enable ordinary people to understand what conduct was prohibited. The court reversed and remanded defendant's reduced sentence because he did not prove that he clearly accepted responsibility for his offense.