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Criminal Resource Manual

937. Department Of Agriculture-Food Stamp Violations

As a result of the growing problem of theft, improper use and illegal trafficking of food stamps in violation of 7 U.S.C. § 2024, modified referral procedures concerning fraud cases involving suspected food stamp violations have been established.

These procedures provide a means of expediting the prosecution of significant cases while permitting latitude for the prompt administrative action by the Department of Agriculture in categories of cases not deemed to warrant prosecution.

The Department of Agriculture will not refer the following categories of food stamp violations for prosecutive consideration:

  1. Retailers participating in the program:

    Routine reports of retailer violations where the only offenses committed or suspected are the sale of ineligible items for food stamps. (Any other violations by retailers, such as case discounting of food stamps, trafficking in stamps or ATP cards,retention of stamps or cards for security or other purposes, will be treated as significant and referred. NOTE: ATP ("authorized to participate") cards are issued to an eligible person indicating that person's eligibility to participate for a certain period of time and at a certain level. See 7 C.F.R. 271.1.)

  2. Recipients authorized to participate in the program, and applicants for participation and reports of:

    1. False applications or forgery about which the report indicates that the state prosecuting authorities are cognizant of these violations, intend to pursue them and there are no additional circumstances suggesting an overriding Federal interest, e.g., widespread conspiracies or substantial public loss; and

    2. False applications regarding where the recipient already has made complete restitution.

  3. Violations by others not authorized to possess food stamps and reports of:

    1. Thefts of food stamps or ATP cards in which the total amount involved or suspected to be involved is small (less than $100); and

    2. Thefts where the identity of the thief is unknown. All other reports containing substantial evidence of 7 U.S.C. § 2024 or other food stamp related crimes will be referred to USAs for consideration and prosecution. The same is true of reports falling in the above nonsignificant categories if the Department of Agriculture feels that prosecution is desirable from a program standpoint.

[cited in USAM 9-42.001]