Grocery Store SNAP Defense Lawyers
There are many grocery stores located in New York City. Most grocers are honest, hardworking individuals who strive to provide the best customer service for their customers that they possibly can. Many smaller shops that sell groceries are neighborhood staples where the neighborhood residents go to pick up their necessary foods and other household products. New York, like other states, participates in the SNAP program run by the federal department of agriculture. This program is more commonly known as the food stamp program after the paper voucher stamps that eligible individuals previously had to use at the store to buy food.
The problem with this system is that there are always some people who will find ways to abuse this type of needed welfare program. There are strict rules and income limits that must be met to qualify for this food program intended for the lowest income households. Grocers too must abide by strict government rules in order to be eligible to cash these benefits when customers purchase the qualifying groceries from their stores. This program allows smaller grocery stores to serve the lower income households within the surrounding neighborhoods. If a grocer is found guilty of intentionally defrauding the government by breaking the SNAP rules, the grocer could be fined large amounts of money which is dependent on the amount of the fraud, and they could face jail time in the worst scenarios.
The SNAP program has representatives charged with finding and stopping any fraud. Some years ago, SNAP revamped their system and incorporated a computerized program that loads the eligible SNAP benefits amount onto each participants debit card issued by the program. Now, the agency can trace transactions and investigate fraudulent suspicions easier and faster. However, there are still honest mistakes rather than intentional fraud, and the complex rules for the program make it difficult to follow for many grocery store workers.
Each store is responsible for training their employees on what foods and beverages are eligible to be bought with SNAP benefits and which ones are forbidden. Even in the best situations, a new clerk may ring up something under the SNAP benefits like paper products including toilet paper and paper towels. Some ineligible items are easy to understand. Most law abiding tax payers would object if their tax dollars allowed someone to purchase beer, wine, cigarettes or drugs with their SNAP government issued benefits intended for food purchases only.
Mistakes can happen if a store clerk rings up a prepared food like a cooked deli chicken for instance. Some deli items are allowed, and the rules can include one type of packaged cheese but exclude another similar one because it is sliced thin perhaps. It is easy to see how a clerk could be confused in this case. The grocer may also be completely unaware that anything was done wrong, as there is not immediate alert. What can happen is the grocer might get an official letter from the agency that governs SNAP benefits accusing the grocer of SNAP violations and possible fraud.
If a grocer gets a letter, he/she should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer that practices in the city. They should choose a law firm that has experience in handling SNAP fraud cases like the NYC Criminal Defense Attorneys at Spodek Law Group. The government only gives grocers 10 days to respond to their letter. Time is of the essence here. A qualified attorney can quickly handle the first response communication. If necessary, the attorney can handle all of any subsequent communication and precise paperwork that the agency requires completed.
The stakes for not getting the proper legal representation can be high. The grocer could be banned from participating in the SNAP program which could take away a good bit of a grocery store’s profits every month. This is especially true for stores situated in low income neighborhoods. A competent lawyer can defend a grocer throughout the sometimes lengthy process. Sometimes a case can be resolved swiftly. If the federal government finds that the grocer is guilty of fraud, it could result in a criminal felony charge. Access https://www.nyccriminalattorneys.com to learn more about SNAP defense lawyers, and schedule your free consultation appointment.