News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Shakopee man pleads guilty to using other people’s food stamps

June 12, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 47-year-old Shakopee man pleaded guilty to using other people’s food stamps. Chin Son Kim specifically pleaded guilty to one count of food stamp fraud. Kim, who was charged on April 18, 2013, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson.

In his plea agreement, Kim admitted that between November 2010 and July 2012, he obtained Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (“SNAP”) cards, commonly known as food stamps, from the true recipients of those benefits. To acquire the cards, he waited near a charity facility in St. Paul, as well as at other locations, and then approached people he thought might be in possession of them.

After obtaining a card, Kim would go to cooperating local markets, where he would use the card in an unauthorized manner. Typically, he would present the card to the grocer, who would swipe it through a food-stamp scanner, routinely noting a transaction of approximately $200. Kim would then receive cash, groceries, or store credit in that amount. Afterwards, he would return the card to its rightful owner, providing that person with cash in the amount of approximately half the transaction total. The loss to the SNAP program because of Kim’s action was approximately $29,816.

Each individual who receives SNAP benefits is issued an electronic benefit transfer (“EBT”) card, which contains a monthly allocated benefit amount that can be used at authorized retailers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) reimburses those retailers for the benefit amounts redeemed. Only eligible food items may be acquired with food stamps, and some items, such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and cell phone minutes are not eligible. Moreover, food stamps may not be redeemed for cash.

For his crime, Kim faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Judge Magnuson will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. This case is the result of an investigation by the USDA-Office of Inspector General, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Paul Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Steinkamp.

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