HARRISBURG – Senators Ryan P. Aument (R-36) and Judy Schwank (D-11) will introduce legislation to create stronger penalties against individuals and businesses that fraudulently traffic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The legislation would seek to prevent individuals and businesses from unlawfully trading money or other goods or services in exchange for SNAP benefits. It would create a new penalty for the fraudulent trafficking of SNAP benefits in an amount greater than $2,500.
“SNAP is too important to allow any abuse of the program, especially by individuals or businesses that seek to exploit vulnerable citizens for profit,” Aument said. “When unscrupulous merchants buy benefit cards for pennies on the dollar and resell the proceeds of their crimes, everyone else pays the price.”
Under the legislation proposed by the Senators, an individual who is convicted of SNAP trafficking could be found guilty of a second-degree felony and be required to pay restitution of up to three times the amount of the fraud they committed.
“SNAP is the most critical part of the state’s strategy to ensure the nutritional needs of all Pennsylvanians are met, regardless of their income,” Schwank said. “Allowing individuals and businesses to abuse this program for profit only takes benefits away from the individuals and families who need our help the most.”
Last year, the Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) uncovered a scheme involving a Harrisburg restaurant trading drugs for EBT cards and buying thousands of dollars of supplies from a food wholesale club to be resold for profit. The plot involved the fraudulent use of nearly 60 different SNAP recipients’ benefits.
The legislation would also allow the Inspector General to report SNAP traffickers to local and state licensing entities to pursue disqualification for future public contracts. The bipartisan bill is being introduced at the request of OSIG.
CONTACT: Jake Smeltz (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument)
Jamie Klein (717) 787-8925 (Senator Schwank)