State v. J.A. – First Degree Rape
For many retailers across North Carolina, federal SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) are a significant source of revenue. These benefits are available to low-income households to assist with nutritional needs. They’re governed and enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service.
However, cashiers sometimes skirt the rules when accepting EBT (electronic benefits transfer) transactions. “Trafficking,” fraud and other violations can result in costly consequences. In addition to imposing monetary penalties, the federal government has authority to permanently disqualify you from engaging in EBT transactions, putting an end to SNAP benefits as a form of revenue for your business.
The USDA is actively investigating small retailers – including gas stations, convenience stores, and specialty grocery stores – for SNAP violations. A strong and proactive defense is essential for protecting your business.
At Roberts Marcilliat & Mills PLLC, we help businesses defend against investigations and enforcement actions. Our lawyers understand the regulatory minefield that governs SNAP benefits. We will work tirelessly to protect not only your revenues, but your reputation as well.
The term “trafficking” is quite broad in scope, but in these cases, it refers to certain types of ineligible EBT transactions. The most common type of trafficking violation involves exchanging food stamp benefits for cash or noneligible items rather than eligible food. Employees who accept these transactions can subject their employer to significant consequences.
Under Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, only authorized retailers can exchange “eligible food items” for food stamps. Eligible food does not include:
SNAP trafficking can take many forms. The most common violations involve:
In practice, a fraudulent EBT transaction might look like this: Your cashier swipes a customer’s EBT card for $100 in SNAP benefits and in exchange hands over $50 in cash to the customer from the register.
Ultimately, a series of transactions like this will result in unbalanced accounting and will likely invite the USDA’s attention in the form of a charge letter.
A word of warning: There are many types of violations under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
For example, accepting SNAP benefits without proper authorization can result in significant fines and penalties. Only stores that sell a certain percentage of “staple foods” can qualify for a SNAP permit. Each store location must have its own permit, and permits can’t be transferred between locations or owners.
Benefit transfers must also comply with certain rules. For example, you should never keep EBT card numbers or PIN numbers on file. Nor should you accept EBT payments over the phone. These rules are designed to safeguard debit card numbers and reduce the incidence of identity theft and welfare fraud.
When it comes to benefit transfers, any type of suspicious activity could lead to a trafficking and fraud investigation.
For example, if your store has numerous transactions that involve manually entering the customer’s EBT card number, you’re more likely to get flagged for suspicious activity. Avoid manual entry of card numbers unless the card reader isn’t working, and only do so when the customer is present.
Store owners are ultimately responsible for training their employees on SNAP transactions. Violations typically happen when employees break the rules. Yet it’s still the store owner who gets held responsible – and often at a costly price.
Penalties for violations may include:
Learn more about the various penalties that can arise from specific SNAP violations.
Any food stamp trafficking offense or other SNAP violation – even if just one – can lead to disqualification (among other penalties). And repeat or severe violations can lead to permanent disqualification.
Based in North Carolina, our attorneys at Roberts Marcilliat & Mills PLLC handle SNAP violation cases throughout the country. Much of this work can be done exclusively by phone and email, which means that even if your store is located outside North Carolina, you can still get our help.
When it comes to SNAP cases, we help our clients in everything from defense to compliance to federal appeals, both in administrative proceedings and, if necessary, in court. We understand how to develop the right defensive strategies based on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. And we will fight tirelessly to protect your civil rights – and the success of your business – in the face of serious potential penalties.
State v. B.S.: Not Guilty Verdict in First Degree Murder Case..
In this case, our client was charged with First Degree Murder in connection with a “drive by” shooting that occurred in Charlotte, NC. The State’s evidence included GPS ankle monitoring data linking our client was at the scene of the crime and evidence that our client confessed to an inmate while in jail. Nonetheless, we convinced a jury to unanimously find our client Not Guilty. He was released from jail the same day.
State v. S.G.: First Degree Murder Charge Dismissed..
Our client was charged with First Degree for the shooting death related to an alleged breaking and entering. The State’s evidence included a co-defendant alleging that our client was the shooter. After conducting a thorough investigation with the use of a private investigator, we persuaded the State to dismiss entirely the case against our client.
State v. B.D.: First Degree Murder Charged Dismissed..
After conducting an investigation and communicating with prosecutor about the facts and circumstances indicating that our client acted in self-defense, the case was dismissed and deemed a justifiable homicide.
State v. I.R.: Reduction from First Degree Murder to Involuntary Manslaughter and Concealment of Death..
Our client was charged with the First Degree Murder of a young lady by drug overdose. After investigating the decedent’s background and hiring a preeminent expert toxicologist to fight the State’s theory of death, we were able to negotiate this case down from Life in prison to 5 years in prison, with credit for time served.
State v. J.G.: .
Our client was charged with First Degree Murder related to a “drug deal gone bad.” After engaging the services of a private investigator and noting issues with the State’s case, we were able to negotiate a plea for our client that avoided a Life sentence and required him to serve only 12 years.
State v. J.A. – First Degree Rape
State v. B.S. – First Degree Murder
State v. E.D. – Identity Theft
State v. J.A. – First Degree Rape
Each case is different and must be evaluated on its individual facts. We work hard to assess each case individually. Prior results do not guarantee any future outcome.
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