Food Stamp Fraud Lawyer NYC
Your Trusted Food Stamp Fraud Lawyer in New York City
NYC Food Stamp fraud has been in fraud investigators’ sights for years. Still, the recent Human Resources Administration (HRA) policy changes to the food stamp program and food stamp benefits 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 the Norman Spencer Law Group for a FREE consultation at (212) 577-6677.
What is Food Stamp Fraud
Suppose you apply for food stamps (New York State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]) in New York City and provide false information on your application. In that case, New York state will contend you have committed food stamp fraud. The most common example of food stamps fraud is failure to disclose household income.
Our criminal defense law firm has handled numerous food stamp fraud cases. The most common scenario is when a couple separates, and the husband lives separately from the wife and children. The wife applies for food stamp benefits, now known as snap benefits, 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 must be disclosed. If you do not disclose these facts, New York considers it Food Stamp Fraud.
In other cases, applicants don’t disclose their income, and it’s just a matter of time before they are flagged for welfare fraud. This especially happens a lot with New York City workers.
The Bureau of Fraud Investigations of the New York City Human Resources Investigations is responsible for most food stamp investigations and prosecutions in New York City. When your case is flagged, an investigator will send you a letter asking you to appear for an “interview” and bring some documents. Call our criminal defense law firm office immediately for professional advice when you receive this letter. Do not contact the investigator, and of course, you should never speak with them as particular facts you give or tell them will be used against you if your case is prosecuted as a fraud case.
Unfortunately, we see unsuspecting people walking into this trap repeatedly only to make their criminal food stamp fraud prosecution much easier.
Degrees of Food Stamp Fraud
Food stamp fraud is considered welfare fraud, and there are 5 degrees of welfare fraud in New York:
- First-degree welfare fraud is when you receive over 1 million dollars. This is a Class B felony.
- Second-degree welfare fraud is when you receive $50,000 up to 1 million dollars. This is a Class C felony.
- Third-degree welfare fraud is when you receive $3,000 up to 50,000 dollars. This is a Class D felony.
- Fourth-degree welfare fraud is when you receive $1,000 up to 3,000 dollars. This is a Class D felony.
- Fifth-degree welfare fraud is when you receive up to 1,000 dollars. This is a Class A misdemeanor.
What If My Case is Prosecuted?
Providing false information on a public snap benefits application is a crime. If the amount lost to the City exceeds $1,000.00, you will be charged with fourth-degree welfare fraud, a felony. Of course, this requires the Bureau of Fraud Investigation to refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office, which we always try to prevent. However, not everything is lost even if your case has been referred to the DA.
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 the Norman Spencer Law Group immediately. This is the benefit of an attorney-client relationship.
If you or someone you know has been accused of food stamp fraud, call our New York City food stamp fraud lawyers today for an immediate free consultation.
Food Stamp fraud is one of the most commonly investigated types of public food stamp benefits fraud in New York these days. In New York City, the HRA is spending more resources on food stamp fraud than, for example, on Medicaid fraud. Folks investigated for Food Stamp fraud always ask what penalties they face. Let’s take a look at this step by step.
Food Stamp fraud, put simply, is getting the food stamp benefits to which you are not entitled. Eligibility for the food stamp program depends on your household income. Most food stamp 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 SNAP benefits and will want you to return the money by paying restitution. 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 and possibly found guilty.
If you resolve your case administratively, there 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. There you are going to face repercussions. You will be arrested and charged with multiple felony counts. These include Grand Larceny, Welfare fraud, and Filing a False Business Document. NYC 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 and current legal developments depend on many factors, such as the amount of money taken in the fraud, your criminal history, your particular conduct relating to the case, etc. For example, a single mother who is legally married to her husband, not living with her, and who hadn’t disclosed his income will be treated by most judges differently than someone who owns multiple businesses, has a 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 avoid having any criminal conviction if your attorney licensed in criminal defense 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 stamp fraud can be deported from the United States. Those with professional licenses and certificates can also face professional disciplinary charges. One 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 convicted, such as receiving a plea for disorderly conduct, the Board of Education will still press disciplinary charges against the teacher.
Over the years, I have handled hundreds of public and SNAP benefits fraud cases in New York, many in criminal courts. I can tell you that with the right approach, there are undoubtedly many ways to prevent the most severe 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 free consultation before you contact the investigator.