New York Food Stamps Fraud Lawyer
If you received a letter from NYC Human Resources Administration Bureau of Investigations (BFI), indicating that they are looking into your eligibility for food stamps or SNAP program, you are a target of fraud investigation and you could be facing criminal penalties. Take this seriously in order to avoid drastic consequences.
Food Stamps Fraud in New York
First, let’s talk about why the government is investigating you for Food Stamps Fraud. Food Stamps or SNAP is a federally funded program that provides assistance to needy families to buy food. Even though it is funded by the federal government, it is administered by the local social services departments, in NYC case, by the Human Resources Administration. To qualify for food stamps in New York, your income must be within the eligibility guidelines. You must disclose any type of your household income. You need to disclose not only income from work but any money that comes in, even gifts and contributions or income of anyone else in your household. For example, if you are not married, you still have disclose your partner’s income. People in on and off relationships often become targets of fraud investigations because they fail to disclose their partner’s incomes in cases where they should. In a nutshell, if you have children together and share household financial responsibilities, you are a family, one household fort the purposes of computing your household income, and it doesn’t really matter if you are married or live together 100% of the time. Many people think that they are “separated” because they moved out while they keep on claiming the children, etc. You are not separated unless you have a court-issed order of separation.
If you don’t fully disclose your household income and you get food stamps based on the information you provided, you may be committing a crime. There are many ways in which the government discovers the fraud. Many times it’s the payroll information if you work on the books; other times it’s your partner’s income. The investigators look for evidence that you live together as one household. They look into your bank accounts, speak with neighbors, building supers, check DMV records, etc. When the investigation is over, you will receive a letter ordering you to come in for the interview.
Should You Go To The Requested Interview?
No. Don’t speak with the investigators. It won’t help you at all but it can hurt you in many ways. Many people ask, “But the letter says that I have to go?” The answer is NO. You don’t have to speak with them just like you don’t have to speak with police, but if you do, anything you tell them, any document you give them, will be used against you in court. Remember that by the time you receive the interview letter, the investigator already knows all the information they are seeking and the real reason they want to speak with you is not because they want new information or some sort of clarification but rather because they need you to make statements, essentially admitting to not disclosing the information. They need these admissions to wrap up their cases. It their protocol it is easier for the District Attorney to prosecute you if they have your own admissions.
What is the Worst Case Scenario?
The worst-case scenario is that the HRA will refer your case for criminal prosecution. With food stamp fraud, it’s been happening more often in recent years. This should and in many cases can be avoided if the case is handled right.
But even if the case has been referred to the District Attorney’s Office, not all is lost. We can still help you avoid most negative consequences of a criminal prosecution.
In all public benefits fraud investigations, a good lawyer should always try to resolve the case. If you have more questions about your food stamp fraud investigation, I want you to pick up the phone and call me today so I can help you.
How To Find Best New York Food Stamps Fraud Lawyers
New York Food Stamps lawyers at Joseph Potashnik and Associates represented hundreds of clients in welfare fraud cases and we can tell you that a good lawyer should always try to prevent criminal prosecution unless it’s too late. If all goes well, your case can be resolved without criminal charges filed against you. However, the outcome of the case depends on how you act when you are investigated. Consulting with an experienced lawyer before you meet with the agents is the first step to a successful outcome. We have built a spectacular track record of defending our clients in cases involving the Bureau of Fraud Investigations. Speak to us today to see what we can do for you.
If you are under investigation for Food Stamps Fraud or Cash Assistance Fraud, call (212) 577-6677 for an immediate consultation with our New York Criminal Defense Lawyer.