NY Food Stamps Fraud Lawyer
Food Stamp fraud in New York City has been in fraud investigators’ sights for years, but the recent HRA policy changes made thousands of New Yorkers the target of aggressive investigations, and in many cases criminal prosecutions. If you or a family member is being targeted for Food Stamps Fraud, call us for a FREE phone consultation at (212) 577-6677.
What is Food Stamp Fraud
If you apply for food stamps (NYS Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) in New York City and provide false information on your application, the state will contend you have committed fraud. The most common example of food stamps fraud is failure to disclose household income.
We have handled numerous food stamps fraud cases and the most common scenario that just keeps on recurring is when a couple separates with the husband living separately from the wife and kids. The wife applies for food stamps and only discloses her income but not her husband’s.
The problem is that even though they don?t live together, they are still considered one household unless they divorce or have a separation order signed by a judge. Even then, if the ex-husband supports the ex-wife and his children, this help needs to be disclosed. If you do not, New York considers it Food Stamps Fraud.
In other cases, applicants just don’t disclose their income and it?s just a matter of time before they are flagged. Especially, this happens a lot with City workers.
Did you receive an interview letter from the Bureau of Fraud Investigations?
The Bureau of Fraud Investigations of the NYC Human Resources Investigations is responsible for most food stamp investigations and prosecutions in New York City. When your case is flagged, and investigator will send you a letter asking you to appear for an “interview” and bring some documents. When you receive this letter, call our office immediately. Do not contact the investigator and of course, you should never speak with them as anything you give or tell them will be used against you if your case is prosecuted as a fraud case.
Unfortunately, we see time and again the unsuspecting people walking into the trap only to make their criminal fraud prosecution much more realistic and easier.
What If My Case is Prosecuted?
Providing false information on public benefits applications is a crime and if the amount lost to the City exceeds $1,000.00, you will be charged with Food Stamps Fraud, which is a felony. Of course, this requires the BFI to first refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office, something we always try to prevent. However, even if your case has been referred to the DA, not everything is lost.
Even at this stage we can significantly minimize your criminal exposure and in some cases even convince prosecutors not to file charges. If you receive a letter or a phone call from the District Attorney’s Office, call us immediately.
If you or someone you know have been accused of food stamps fraud , call our New York City food stamp fraud lawyers today for an immediate consultation.
Food Stamps fraud is one of the most commonly investigated types of public benefits fraud in New York these days. In New York City, the Human Resources Administration is spending more resources on food stamps fraud than, for example on Medicaid fraud. Folks investigated for Food Stamps fraud always ask what penalties they face. Let’s take a look at this step by step.
Food Stamps fraud, put simply, is getting the food stamps benefits for which you are not entitled. Eligibility for FS depends on your household income. Most fraud investigations focus on people misrepresenting their income (or their spouses’ income). If you are caught cheating, the government will estimate how much you received in these benefits and will want you to return the money by way of paying restitution. Just like in other types of public benefits fraud, there are two possible scenarios. You can have your case resolved administratively, without criminal charges, or you can be prosecuted.
If you resolve your case administratively, there really are not any penalties. You will be allowed to pay restitution and the case will be closed without any record. The problem is when the case goes to the District Attorney’s Office. Here you are going to face repercussions. You will be arrested and charged with multiple felony counts. These include Grand Larceny, Welfare fraud, and Filing of a False Business Document. Criminal Food Stamps fraud cases can be resolved in many ways. If you have defenses, you may try your case and be acquitted. If you are convicted after trial, you will have a permanent felony conviction record and may even face jail time. the outcome of each case depends on many factors such as the amount of fraud, your criminal history, your particular conduct relating to the case, etc. For example, a single mother who is legally married with her husband not living with her, who didn?t disclose his income will be treated by most judges differently from someone who owns multiple businesses, has six-number income, lives in a mansion, and drives flashy cars.
You can also negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor that can eliminate the risk of going to jail or having a felony conviction. Sometimes, you can even avoid having any criminal conviction, if your defense lawyer knows what he or she is doing.
There are other, less known penalties associated with food stamp fraud. For example, non-citizens convicted of food stamps fraud can be deported from the US. Those with professional licenses and certificates can also face professional disciplinary charges. A good example is NYC teachers accused of public benefits fraud, such as food stamps or Medicaid. Even if the case is resolved in a way that does not leave a person convict, such as a plea to disorderly conduct, the Board of Education will still press disciplinary charges against the teacher.
Over the years, I have handled hundreds of public benefits fraud cases in New York, many of them in criminal courts, and I can tell you that with the right approach, there are certainly many ways to prevent the most serious consequences of being charged with a crime. If you have received a letter from the Bureau of Fraud Investigations informing you that you are being investigated for Food Stamps fraud, call us today at (212) 577-6677 to set up an immediate consultation before you contact the investigator.