The USDA may impose a civil money penalty, known as a CMP, in lieu of permanent disqualification for trafficking.

The CMP must be requested within 10 calendar days of receiving a charge letter from the USDA. The USDA does not give extensions for time to request a CMP in lieu of permanent disqualification.

In order to be eligible for a CMP, you must meet the four criteria established in Section 278.6(i) of the SNAP Regulations.

Criterion 1 – The firm had an effective compliance policy in place

Criterion 2 – The compliance policy was in effect PRIOR to the violations

Criterion 3 – The firm had developed and set up effective personnel training

Criterion 4 – the firm ownership was not aware of, did not approve of, and did not benefit from trafficking

The USDA will require proof in the form of written forms and documents, photos and signed statements. The USDA will look for documentation of a policy the store developed and instituted. The training program for all employees who will be handling EBT transactions is critical. The USDA has an expectation that the store will document its training activity and will have available the training materials and records of training sessions and a log of training dates. The training must be held for all managers and employees whose work brings them into contact with food stamps or work in the area where they are accepted.

The amount of the CMP varies from case to case. When calculated the CMP in lieu of  permanent disqualification for trafficking, the regulations state that a CMP  in accordance with §278.6(i) shall not exceed the amount specified in §3.91(b) (3) (ii) for each violation and shall not exceed the amount specified in §3.91(b) (3) (ii) for all violations occurring during a single investigation.

CALCULATING THE CMP

The Regulations read:

FNS shall determine the amount of the civil money penalty as follows:    

(1)  Determine the firm’s average monthly redemptions for the 12-month period ending with the month immediately preceding the month during which the firm was charged with violations;    

(2)  Multiply the average monthly redemption figure by 10 percent;

(3)  For the first trafficking offense by a firm, multiply the product obtained in §278.6(j) (2) by 60 if the largest amount of food coupons, ATP cards, or other benefit instruments involved in a single trafficking transaction had a face value of $99 or less.  If the face value of coupons, ATP cards or other benefit instruments involved in the largest single trafficking transaction was $100 or more, the amount of the product obtained in this paragraph shall be doubled;    

(4)  For a second trafficking offense by a firm, multiply the product obtained in §278.6(j) (2) by 120 if the largest amount of food coupons, ATP cards, or other benefit instruments involved in a single trafficking transaction had a face value of $99 or less and the same firm has once before been sanctioned for trafficking in food coupons, ATP cards, or other benefit instruments. If the face value of food coupons, ATP cards, or other benefit instruments involved in the largest single trafficking transaction was $100 or more, the amount of the product obtained in this paragraph shall be doubled; and    (5)  If a third trafficking offense is committed by the firm, the firm shall not be eligible for a civil money penalty in lieu of disqualification.    

PAYMENT OF CMP

The USDA imposes a short time period in which the firm must pay the CMP in lieu of permanent disqualification for trafficking. The firm has 30 days from the date the final determination was received to pay the CMP in full. If full payment is not made within 30 days, the right to the civil money penalty in lieu of a permanent disqualification is forfeited and the store is disqualified effective immediately.