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Grocery store usda violation Augusta

Dealing with a USDA Grocery Store Violation

So, you got hit with a USDA SNAP violation notice – and it feels like the world is crashing down, right? But, take a deep breath, because you’re not alone. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been cracking down hard on grocery stores in recent years, and even minor infractions can lead to stiff penalties.

What is a USDA SNAP Violation?

A USDA SNAP violation investigation is an inquiry into whether a store that accepts SNAP benefits (food stamps) has violated the rules of the program. These investigations are conducted by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which is responsible for administering SNAP.According to the USDA’s website, there are several types of violations that can trigger an investigation, including:

  • Trafficking SNAP benefits (exchanging them for cash or non-food items)
  • Accepting SNAP for ineligible items like alcohol or hot foods
  • Failing to keep accurate transaction records
  • Overcharging SNAP customers or charging sales tax
  • Allowing use of someone else’s SNAP card

If the FNS suspects any of these violations occurred, they may launch an investigation involving undercover shoppers, surveillance, and review of your store’s records.

Recent SNAP Violation Cases

In recent years, there have been many high-profile SNAP violation cases involving multiple stores:

  • 2019: Three Florida stores permanently disqualified for trafficking benefits
  • 2020: 68 NYC stores settled for $3.2 million in fines for various violations
  • 2021: Two NYC stores permanently disqualified for trafficking

According to a report, the USDA permanently disqualified over 1,600 stores from SNAP in 2018 alone. So, you’re definitely not the only one facing this issue.

Penalties for SNAP Violations

The penalties for grocery store SNAP violations can be severe, depending on the nature and extent of the alleged misconduct:

Permanent Disqualification

This is essentially a death sentence for most grocery stores. Losing access to all those SNAP dollars can cripple a business, and once you’re on the USDA’s blacklist, it’s extremely difficult to get reinstated.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
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Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
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Taïko Beauty
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divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Temporary Disqualification

You could be disqualified from SNAP for 6 months to 5 years. The length depends on the violation type, evidence against you, and prior violations. Even a temporary ban can be devastating for cash flow.

Civil Money Penalties

The USDA can assess fines from hundreds to $100,000 per violation. For a small business operating on thin margins, that financial hit could be catastrophic.

Criminal Charges

In cases involving intentional, large-scale SNAP fraud, you could face criminal charges resulting in steep fines and even imprisonment up to 20 years.The bottom line? Trying to navigate a SNAP case without proper legal representation is like playing Russian roulette with your entire business. Don’t take that risk.

Why You Need an Attorney

When your entire livelihood is on the line, you can’t afford to trust your case to just any lawyer. You need a firm with a proven nationwide track record of success in handling SNAP violations.And that’s exactly what you get with Spodek Law Group. Our team of accomplished attorneys has extensive experience defending grocery stores in virtually every state. We’ve gone toe-to-toe with the FNS and won, securing dismissals, reduced penalties, and favorable settlements for our clients.From rural towns to urban centers, we understand the nuances and regional differences in how SNAP is enforced. We know the specific arguments and legal strategies that resonate with judges in each jurisdiction.Plus, with offices in major legal hubs like New York City and Los Angeles, we have a true nationwide presence. No matter where your business is located, we can be on the ground quickly to start building your defense.When it comes to SNAP violations, there’s no substitute for experience and geographic reach. With Spodek Law Group, you’re getting a team of heavy hitters who have been in this fight before – and know what it takes to win.

The Spodek Law Group Difference

There’s one reason you’re on this website: you’re looking for an elite criminal defense law firm that specializes in SNAP violations. Well, you’ve come to the right place.At Spodek Law Group, we’re focused on providing the highest level of customer service and case results for our clients. Most law firms implement a cookie-cutter strategy to fight your case and save their own time. They don’t look carefully at your situation – they want to move on to the next client.But not us. We leave no stone unturned. We do everything possible to win. Everything we do is focused on getting you results. We understand the difficulties and challenges of going through a SNAP violation case.If you’re accused of trafficking benefits or any other infraction, schedule a consultation with our criminal attorneys today. It’s time to fight back.

What to Do If Investigated

If you find yourself under investigation for potential SNAP violations, follow these steps:

  • Don’t talk to investigators without an attorney present
  • Gather all relevant documents and transaction records
  • Cooperate, but don’t admit to any wrongdoing
  • Consider negotiating a settlement to avoid disqualification
  • Seek legal counsel immediately to protect your rights

The best way to handle a SNAP violation, however, is to avoid one in the first place by training employees on program rules, keeping accurate records, and never allowing improper benefit exchanges.

Getting the Best Representation

Regardless of how tough your situation is – we are here to help you. Our criminal defense lawyers work hard to find a solution, irrespective of the circumstances.Many clients are embarrassed by their situation and don’t speak openly about the alleged issue. We encourage open dialogue and recommend full transparency – so we can give you the best possible legal advice.The Spodek Law Group handles cases nationwide. We have offices in NYC and Los Angeles. But, our geographic reach extends far beyond those cities. We’ve successfully defended clients from coast-to-coast against even the most serious federal charges.From the moment you make that first call, you’ll realize you’re working with a different breed of law firm. One that truly leaves no stone unturned in pursuit of victory. One that treats you like family, not another case number.It’s simple. Every single client deserves honesty and white glove service. That’s the Spodek Way, and it’s why we’ve built a reputation as one of America’s most feared and respected criminal defense law firms.

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