Attorneys for SNAP Violations Defense & SNAP Disqualifications
The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether you are a business owner or an individual. Let’s talk about business owners first.
10-day letter for a snap violation found in a retail operation
If you are a business owner, then, you may have received a computer-generated report showing you all of the alleged fraudulent EBT charges that took place at your store. The most common exhibits are separated as follows:
- There will be charges grouped together by date and time indicating transactions that happened too close to each other.
- Secondly, there will be another exhibit that shows identical transactions that happen within a set period of time.
- Third, a final list of transactions going from highest to lowest dollar value.
When reading these exhibits, try to focus on the repetition of dollar values and try to find a pattern. Then, ask yourself why this might happen at your store. Here are a few cases and examples that we have seen.
- Our Client sells food in bulk.
- Our Client’s customers normally negotiate their bills. For example, a bill of $42.33 is frequently negotiated down to $40.00
- Our Client separates their transactions for their own inventory and accounting purposes. For instance, we had a seller of crawfish that always completed the sale of the crawfish and then completed a separate sale of the other EBT items. For this reason, he always had two separate transactions within minutes of each other.
- Store credit – this is the most common problem. Our Clients routinely allow their customers to pay them back at a later time and/or date. For this reason, there are two transactions taking place within minutes or even seconds. The first transaction represents the transaction that was made on credit at a prior time, then, the second transaction represents the new transaction.
The other SNAP violation letter is a collection of 3 to 4 instances where an undercover agent has solicited illegal favors from your store clerk. Each exhibit will show the ineligible EBT items that were sold or not sold. Here is the key:
M = Majorly ineligible item (non-food, non-household)
E = Eligible item (EBT qualified)
R = Refusal (your store clerk refused to sell the undercover agent this item)
F = Free (your store clerk gave away the item for free instead of committing a violation)
There is an explanation of the event with each instance of trafficking. For instance, the undercover agent will explain the conversation that they have with the store clerk. This conversation may be helpful. For instance, if your store clerk clearly states that “this is against the store policy.” Conversely, this conversation can be devastating to your case if the store clerk says “let me call my boss and ask them because they usually allow for this illegal activity at night.” Questions to ask here are:
- Was the store clerk the owner?
- Did the store owner authorize such activity?
- Was the store clerk trained?
- Was the store clerk coerced by the USDA’s agent?
The Redbull dilemma
Our firm refers to these cases simply as a “Redbull case.” Essentially, an undercover agent asks the store clerk to enter into an arrangement where they will purchase Redbull using their EBT card at another store and then resell it to our Client at a lower price. What’s the benefit? The profit margin of the Redbull is increased because the new wholesale price is so low. This is also trafficking in EBT benefits.
Now, let’s talk about individuals facing SNAP and EBT violations. The most common case is where an individual does not fully disclose their own income and/or the income of their significant other that resides at their home.
Disqualification for an Intentional Program Violation (IPV)
An Intentional Program Violation (IPV) is any action taken by a client for the purpose of establishing or maintaining SNAP eligibility or for increasing or preventing a reduction in the benefit amount which is committed knowingly, willfully, and/or with deceitful intent.
Disqualification for Receipt of Multiple SNAP Benefits
Clients found by the Department or convicted by a federal, state or local court of having made a fraudulent statement or representation with respect to identity or place of residence to receive multiple benefits simultaneously under SNAP are ineligible for SNAP benefits for ten years.
Disqualification for Trading SNAP Benefits
A client found guilty by a federal, state or local court of trading (buying or selling) SNAP benefits for a controlled substance is ineligible for SNAP benefits for two years for the first finding, and permanently for the second finding.
A client found guilty by a federal, state or local court of trading (buying or selling) SNAP benefits for firearms, ammunition or explosives is ineligible for SNAP benefits permanently.
A client found guilty by a federal, state or local court of trading (buying or selling) SNAP benefits having a value of $500 or more is ineligible for SNAP benefits permanently.
Disqualification of Fleeing Felons
A client who is fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody or confinement after conviction of a felony under the laws of the place from which the individual is fleeing or is violating a condition of probation or parole is ineligible for SNAP benefits. This policy is currently pending clarification by USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
Disqualification for Voluntary Quit
If a client subject to SNAP Employment and Training requirements is found to have voluntarily quit a job without good cause at application, the entire household is ineligible for SNAP benefits for three months for the first finding, six months for the second finding and twelve months for the third finding.
If the client is found to have voluntarily quit a job without good cause while participating in the program, the client is ineligible for SNAP benefits for three months for the first finding, six months for the second finding and twelve months for the third finding.
If the client found to have voluntarily quit a job without good cause while participating in the program for a third time is the head of household, in addition to the client being ineligible for SNAP benefits for twelve months, the entire household is ineligible for SNAP benefits for six months.
Contact our SNAP Violation Attorney to discuss your options.