New York Grocery Store SNAP Violation Lawyers
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is meant to help the underprivileged, disabled and elderly in society. The food subsidy lends a hand to low-income earners to ensure they have a balanced diet.
The USDA dedicates an entire department of over a hundred employees to enforce their rules and regulations concerning the subsidy. These employees carry out investigative and undercover work to unearth retail store and individuals who are participating in SNAP fraud. They are then charged through a letter called a SNAP violation letter. This letter usually gives a list of all the violations committed and sometimes summons the store or person to court for a disqualification hearing. This is just one of the few penalties that SNAP fraud convicts get.
On successful application, a person is usually given an EBT Card (Electronic Benefit Transfer Card). They can use this card to purchase specific items that contribute positively to their nutrition. Items such as alcohol, supplements, and cigarettes are not eligible for purchase by the card.
SNAP Fraud is the act of misusing the EBT or the license given to SNAP retail stores. It can happen on the side of the store or the individual. In some cases the two work together to commit this fraud.
What Constitutes SNAP Fraud?
When a store uses the EBT card to give a customer cash instead of food stuff, this is considered fraud. Chances are that this retail store will be disqualified. If they are disqualified and re-apply under a different name, they are considered to be fraudulent. Some grocery stores will give customers groceries worth a certain amount of money and then redeem more money than their worth. Another example is if an applicant lies during the application process so that they can get assistance when they do not need it, or so that they can get more money than they deserve. Families with lower income and a large number of family members are given a larger stipend than smaller families whose income might be larger.
What Penalties Can I Get?
On conviction, the USDA can impose penalties on those who have been convicted whether it is a grocery store or an individual. They can impose a fine and give either permanent or temporary disqualification.
The USDA is mandated by law to impose civil fines to stores and persons who are guilty of SNAP violations. There is no fixed amount as this varies depending on a number of factors. They will look at previous violations for businesses and individuals, the volume of the transactions, and the seriousness of the allegations.
A fine is not as bad as disqualification because you can continue with business. Families may also continue getting their stipend for shopping, probably with a warning that further violation will cause disqualification.
This is a more serious penalty. It can be a temporary or permanent disqualification, the latter being the more serious of the two. Temporary disqualification means you will not be allowed to sell to SNAP customers for a certain period of time. Again, this time will depend on the allegations brought against you and whether you had previous violations.
A good grocery store defense lawyer can help you get a lighter sentence such as a shorter disqualification period or even be given a civil fine instead.
A permanent disqualification is the end for your business. EBT customers are critical to SNAP grocery stores. Without them, the business crumbles. If you or your employees are found to be in violation of SNAP rules, then your store could be closed.
There are several ways to avoid being sent a SNAP violation letter.
The first is to of course follow all the rules. Do not make any exception as a business or beneficiary family no matter how tempting the gains seem. As was earlier mentioned, the USDA investigators could be in the store as undercover investigators. They also get information from witnesses.
The second way is to know the laws well. A good SNAP lawyer will help you understand the limitations so that you do not unknowingly violate them.
Have written guidelines as a store as the USDA gives a lenient penalty for stores who ensure their employees are well-trained and informed.
May 17, 2018
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