Food Stamp Fraud is a serious offense under the New York City law. Fraud investigators have been very active in finding and eliminating this deception, especially after the recent HRA policy changes that made hundreds of New York City food store owners a target for aggressive investigations and in most cases subsequent prosecutions. If your firm is being targeted for Food Stamps Fraud, contact Spodek Law Group for a free no-obligation consultation.
Our New York City lawyers have successfully handled many food stamp fraud cases and have acquired exceptional experience along the way. If you are facing a food stamp fraud charge, keep in mind that you’ll be facing a determined prosecutor even before your first hearing. You, therefore, need a lawyer who will stand by you in every step of your way and work extremely hard to discredit any evidence that is not in your favor.
Much of what our lawyer can do to help you out depends on the exact circumstances of your case and will always look at every avenue that can assist you to resolve your case. Spodek Law Group lawyers are fully committed to protecting your rights and providing your firm with the best possible defense.
How Can A Lawyer Defend Me If Prosecuted?
1. Demonstrating How USDA Failed To Present Sufficient Evidence To Support Any Violations
Our lawyer will help you prove that USDA has not provided sufficient evidence to support any violations. We will help you deny all the allegations and specifically deny any allegations of trafficking or any unusual, irregular or inexplicable activity for your firm during the specified period.
We will prove that the said allegations are not supported by any persuasive evidence, and seek for dismissal of all allegations against you. Your lawyer will show that the transactions (attachments) submitted with the charge letter do not contain any historical and analytical context, but are simply and merely a list of your firm’s transactions for the specified period and nothing else.
Spodek Law Group will work hard to determine whether USDA provided sufficient support, analytical framework, comparative information or data for the allegations of trafficking, multiple transactions within an unusually short time frame, exhausting benefits in an unusually short period of time, transactions exceeding the usual practice for stores in New York City or exceedingly large purchases. If the USDA has failed to provide for analysis and comparative review, any information or data for the store, we will make the USDA office understand how impossible it is for the investigations office to determine if your firm has engaged in illegal transactions. We will consequently seek for dismissal of all complaints and allegations against your firm.
2. Lack Of Notice Of Any SNAP Restrictions
Our food stamp lawyers will assist you to gather witnesses and statements from customers of your firm indicating that they were not aware of any restrictions/limitations concerning the use of SNAP benefits within a particular period of time, the maximum dollar amount of any SNAP/EBT purchases or otherwise.
As the food store owner, you aren’t and have never been aware of any limitation or restrictions on SNAP customers concerning use of their benefits in regard to making purchases, within any particular time period at this or any other location. Also, you are not and you have never been aware of any limitation or restrictions concerning limitations on maximum amounts SNAP customers can spend in New York City or any other location.
3. You Probably Acted Without Intent To Violate USDA Regulations
Your firm may have operated in a good faith manner to comply with the rules of the SNAP program concerning the allegations presented in the complaint letter. You may have not violated intentionally or otherwise, any of the SNAP regulations. Any transaction or account activity by your SNAP customers may be due to the specific demographics of your store, location, customer base and other intrinsic and extrinsic factors noted below.
Regarding allegations that benefits were exhausted within a short time period, benefits are believed to be received on or around certain days of the month and usually during or toward the beginning of each month.
There is pent up monthly demand by these customers to utilize their benefits within a short period of time at or around the day or days they receive them. This gives a clear explanation for exhaustion of benefits within a short period of time and also addresses frequent or repetitive utilization of SNAP/EBT benefits.
Other than the letter containing the allegations and a list of transactions, USDA does not provide any other evidence in most cases that support trafficking or other acts complained about in that letter. In such a case, USDA fails to support their allegations against you with any persuasive evidence.
4. You Probably Didn’t Receive Any Previous Warning About Any Alleged Improper Account Activity
Pursuant to CFR, Title 7, section 278.6 (d) (1), (2) and (3), the consideration of any determination by the FNS of any violations or allegations shall include any prior action taken by FNS to warn the firm about the possibility that violations are occurring. If there have not been any prior warnings from the FNS concerning the alleged activities, you therefore didn’t have previous fair warning or notice that your store activities are in violations of any FNS regulations or protocols.
5. Most Of Your Customers Are Probably Repeat Daily Buyers
Regarding repetitive transactions in a short period of time, probably most of your customers are repeat regular buyers who come in once or twice or three times a day. People usually forget to buy things they may need such as extra food for cooking meals, or they may need a snack.
6. How To Address The Allegations That SNAP Benefits Exhausted In An Unusually Short Period Of Time
Regarding the allegations by USDA FNS that SNAP benefits were exhausted in an unusually short period of time, we will defend you by proving how this is possible, especially with a large food store as opposed to a small grocery (if your firm is a large food store). We will work with you to provide USDA with a diagram and photo of the large store in such a case as the exhibit.
Here’s the bottom line; allegations that you have committed food stamp fraud is a very serious matter. However, with an experienced, highly skilled New York City food stamp fraud lawyer, all isn’t lost. Spodek Law Group has a proper understanding of both New York and federal laws regarding food stamp fraud and can get your charge dismissed right away or your penalties significantly reduced. Contact our friendly team today for assistance.