Food Stamps Fraud Trafficking is the act of exchanging food stamp benefits for either ineligible items or money. A retail food dealer commits trafficking when they trade food stamp benefits for ineligible items or cash. A food stamp beneficiary commits trafficking when they use their EBT cards to buy ineligible items or to acquire money.
Food stamp trafficking is outlined in § 802 of title 21 of the U.S. Code. The definition is found in §271. 2 which states, “Food stamps trafficking means the buying or selling of ATP cards, coupons, or other items for money or other consideration except the eligible food; or the purchase of explosives, ammunition, firearms, or controlled items, as stated in § 802 of title 21, U.S. Code, for coupons.”
As a food store owner, you may face extremely harsh consequences if found guilty of Food Stamps Fraud Trafficking. Penalties imposed for this offense are terrible. The USDA FNS may also decide to disqualify a retail food business permanently from participating in the SNAP program without further investigations. As a food store owner, such disqualification is the worst case scenario as it is detrimental to your business. A majority of the disqualified food store owners just leave the business only because they can’t favorably compete with the firms that accept EBT benefits.
How Can Spodek Law Group Defend Me?
Charges of Food Stamp Fraud can be difficult to prove and very complicated to defend. However, at Spodek Law Group, our food stamp fraud attorneys are knowledgeable and have vast experience in protecting the rights of retail food dealers charged with Retail Food Stamp Fraud. We make the greatest effort possible to discredit any form of evidence that is not in your favor. We invest our sweat, blood, and tears to ensure that your rights are not infringed.
If you probably acted without criminal intent or USDA FNS failed to compile the evidence in the right way, our defense lawyers can effectively and efficiently deal with such issues. Your lawyer will carefully search for any avenue that can help you out. Even if the investigations and analysis office has already made a decision to disqualify your retail food store permanently, our dedicated lawyers can help you out and possibly have your disqualification sustained by USDA FNS.
If you have been permanently disqualified, our lawyers analyze the information provided by SNAP Investigations and Analysis Office to determine whether the SNAP Office took the most appropriate action, consistent with 7 U.S.C. section 2021, 7CFR §278. 6 (a) and 7CFR §278. 6 (e) (1) and (i) in its administration of the SNAP when it imposed a permanent disqualification upon your firm. Remember that it’s your right according to 7 U.S.C. section 2023 and the implementing regulations at 7CFR §279.61 to file a request in writing for a review of the administrative action taken against your retail food store.
Investigation Results That May Lead To Charges For Food Stamps Fraud Trafficking
A letter is usually sent to a retail food owner by the Retailer Operations Division charging the retailer with food stamp trafficking as stated in§ 271.2 of the SNAP regulations. Charges are usually based on a series of irregular SNAP transaction patterns such as;
• Unusual multiple transactions being debited from individual benefits accounts in unusually short time frames
• The majority or all of the individual recipient benefits being exhausted in remarkably short periods of time in a series of SNAP transactions.
• Many manual key-entered EBT transactions being debited from recipient accounts
• A series of excessively large SNAP transactions being debited from recipient accounts
The letter usually notes that the penalty for food stamp trafficking is a disqualification as stated in 7 CFR §278. 6 (e) (1). The letter also provides that the appellant can request a trafficking (CMP) civil money penalty instead of disqualification within ten days of receipt of the letter under the conditions specified in 7 CFR section 278.6 (I).
How The USDA FNS Analyzes The Information Provided By The Appeal Before Arriving At Their Final Findings.
In administrative proceedings involving disputes of regulatory actions or inactions, USDA assumes the responsibility of establishing a sufficient factual record to prove or disprove the allegations of your appeal. The record is then reviewed in light of the evidentiary standards and analytical frameworks set up by various courts of law.
In appeals of adverse actions, you bear the burden of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that the administrative actions taken against you should be reversed. That means that you have the burden of providing relevant evidence which a reasonable mind, considering the record as a whole, would accept as sufficient to support a conclusion that the matter asserted is more likely to be true than not true.
FNS may decide to impose a CMP (civil money penalty) instead of disqualification for food stamp trafficking as outlined in section 271.2 if you timely submit to USDA sufficient evidence which shows that your firm has implemented an efficient compliance program and policy to prevent violations.
Additionally, in the interpretation of the regulations, the relevant policy provides that you must provide adequate proof that credit accounts existed at the time the suspicious EBT transactions occurred. The determining officer shall compare the credit information that you provide them with against the transactions in the letter and the recipient’s personal identifying information. If you don’t provide adequate proof, the determining officer shall permanently disqualify you for trafficking.
What Should Your Documented Request For Review Of The USDA FNS Disqualification Action Contain?
In a documented request for review of your firm’s permanent disqualification, we will seek a stay of any penalty, disqualification or otherwise until a review decision is made. We will also show how disqualification will work a hardship on the business and consequently provide information and documentation demonstrating that your firm qualifies for a CMP (civil money penalty) instead of disqualification for food stamp fraud trafficking.
If you have no previous violations or history of complaints or allegations of Food Stamps Fraud Trafficking or other similar violations, we clearly bring this to the USDA FNS knowledge. We will prove our belief that you have complied with all known rules and regulations of SNAP program. We will also show that the investigations office did not present sufficient evidence to support any violations or disqualification.