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USDA SNAP Violation Letter: How to Respond

USDA SNAP Violation Letter: How to Respond

SNAP is one of the oldest of all American government programs. The program intends to make it possible for Americans to get access to the food they need even if they have cash flow problems. Store owners can choose to participate in this program if they want. Any store owner who decides to work with the SNAP program should keep in mind that the program can be quite complicated. Unlike cash or credit card payments, many things are not allowed to be purchased via SNAP payments. The store owner, their employees, and the recipient are entrusted with following the rules that govern SNAP use. When something goes wrong and SNAP payments are used in a way that is not intended, this may lead to the government getting involved in the process. Government officials can send store owners what is known as a SNAP violation letter.

The Letter

A SNAP violation letter may appear innocuous at first. Any letter should be taken very seriously. The letter will contain a cover page indicating that officials believe a violation has taken place. There will be a series of pages indicating the extent of the violations. This will also include details such as when the violation allegedly took place and the nature of the violation.

There are many types of allegations that a store owner may be charged with in this letter. A store owner may be accused of trafficking in SNAP benefits. This term means agreeing to exchange a customer’s SNAP benefits in return for cash on the dollar, legal or illegal drugs, or weapons such as a gun. If you are found guilty of trafficking in SNAP, you can be disqualified from accepting SNAP forever.

A retailer can also be disqualified from the program if they sell items that are not allowed. For example, paper products such as plates and cups cannot be purchased by the user. In general, selling items like soap is considered a minor violation. However, if you sell items like tobacco, especially to minors, this is considered a more serious violation of SNAP rules. If the store owner is found guilty of a minor violation, they can expect what is known as a term disqualification. The term disqualification is generally for a short period. A store owner might be prevented from accepting SNAP payments for a few weeks or even a few months. A major violation might lead to a longer disqualification ranging from three to five years.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
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21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
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I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
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20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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16:26 15 Mar 24
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01:37 25 Jan 24
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A Serious Matter

If you have a letter in hand, there are certain things to keep in mind. Some of the most important are how to avoid responding to the letter.

In the first place, avoid calling officials at the agency. You must presume anything you say may be used against you at a later date. A store owner may be tempted to ask them for further information. This is also a bad idea. If you are asked to send in additional documentation, do not do so without running it by a legal professional first. It’s a much better idea to head to the program’s website. The site is written for users and updated on a frequent basis.

An employee is also not in a position to negotiate with you. State agencies can do so but not those entrusted with SNAP enforcement. Keep in mind the letter indicates they wish to disqualify you from participating in the program. The letter is a warning shot indicating they have evidence. They want you to be dismissed from the program.

Remember, the letter is a charge. You do not have to respond to it. Do not admit you are guilty of any wrongdoing. This could be used against you at a later date. There are lots of reasons why the data might indicate there’s a problem. That does not mean there is a problem. You should not assume you have no defense against any allegations.

It’s also best to avoid talking about your employees. Store owners are considered responsible for the action of those who work for them. Even if you were not there when the violations took place, you are still considered responsible for what happened. As a store owner, you are in charge. You are charged with instructing your employees in the proper use of SNAP payments. If they make a mistake, you are considered at fault for not providing them with adequate instruction.

Further Steps

Once you’ve had a chance to read the letter, you need to take further steps immediately. You only have ten days to respond to it. A professional can help. The first step is to make sure you have as much documentation as possible on hand. You should have detailed records related to all areas of SNAP use. This means indicating that you have done a lot to help train your employees before they started. You should have records on hand indicating what kind of training you are providing them. You should also look closely at any sales records. It is possible there have been mistakes with the entering of data into your system.

There are other steps you can also take to provide a defense. For example, talking to your employees can indicate they do not understand what regulations apply and why. At the same time, they can also provide evidence that all necessary procedures were followed to the letter. A letter is a serious matter. It can greatly hinder your ability to provide for your customers and even lead to large fines if you are found guilty of a violation. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible is a must for any store owner with a SNAP violation.

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