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SNAP Violation Civil Money Penalties Lawyers

SNAP violation civil money penalties can be tough. The USDA can impose CMP on retailers who they determine have violated the SNAP regulations. These penalties are frequently imposed against SNAP retailers who transfer ownership of the stores after being disqualified. FNS can also grant a CMP in lieu of permanent disqualification, if the store has a training program and compliance protocol which conforms with the laws. 

Under FNS regulations, SNAP retailers can be charged with trafficking, and can request a CMP be imposed. The request must be made in writing in 10 days after you get the FNS’s charge letter. The FNS does not grant extensions of time for CMP requests. If you’d like to learn more about CMP requests, you should consider speaking to our law firm. This request has to consist of the following

  1. The store had an effective training program
  2. and that the store had an effective compliance protocol
  3. Evidence that the employees had been trained prior to the date of violation
  4. Firm ownership was not aware/did not approve/did not benefit, from the trafficking violations

Many retailers diligently train their employees, but few have the written program, and compliance protocol, in order to be eligible for a trafficking CMP.

FNS will calculate the CMP in lieu of permanent disqualification for trafficking – based on their formula. This formula is 12 times the average monthly SNAP redemption. Many SNAP retailers redeem 10’s of thousands in EBT each month, so the potential penalties can quickly exceed $100,000. Few SNAP retailers can pay such penalties, as a result FNS CMP regulations places caps on the amounts that eligible SNAP retailers have to pay.

The USDA is a federal agency which oversees the SNAP program and cracks down on retailers who exchange food stamp benefits. The USDA is actively looking at small retailers, like gas stations, convenience stores, and grocery stores, in order to permanently disqualify them even for their first violation. If you own a small business, which is authorized to accept food stamps – you should assume that you’re probably being looked at. There are federal laws which govern items which can be sold by retail stores to customers using food stamps.

Trafficking 

The typical trafficking scenario in a small SNAP authorized retailer occurs when a store accidentally let’s a consumer purchase something they shouldn’t have purchased. Some stores offer store credit in exchange for EBT snap dollars.

How to avoid permanent disqualification

There’s one simple rule to follow: train employees, and be able to prove you trained them. If you create a culture of SNAP compliance, and have a number of rules in place, and compliance programs in place, which prove that you trained the employees – then you’re safer. For example, if you have a list of rules that every cashier must know by heart – and that training material is available to authorized retailers, then this improves your chances of avoiding disqualification. It’s important to train the employees, and have them sign an acknowledgement of training.

If you have proof, you can prove that your store followed the law. You don’t want the actions of one employee who was careless to disqualify you from accepting SNAP ebt.

What to do if you receive a charge letter

If you receive a letter from the USDA, it means the USDA conducted an investigation and made a determination that your store has engaged in illegal activity. As the charge letter will indicate, you have the right to an attorney who will assist you in responding to the allegations.

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