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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shakopee Man Sentenced For Using Other People’s Food Stamps

MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court in St. Paul, a 47-year-old Shakopee man was sentenced for using other people’s food stamps. On September 5, 2013, United States District Judge Paul A. Magnuson sentenced Chin Son Kim to three years of probation on one count of food stamp fraud. Kim was charged on April 18, 2013, and pleaded guilty on June 12, 2013. Kim was ordered to pay restitution of $29,816.

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 of the transaction total. The loss to the SNAP program because of Kim’s action was approximately $29,816.

Following the sentencing, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Wagner of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, said, “SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net, and those who prey on the poor by illegally purchasing SNAP benefits erode the public trust in the program.”

Wagner expressed appreciation to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul Police Department, and U.S. Attorney’s Office for effectively working together to prosecute those whose criminal conduct diverts vital federal nutrition assistance away from needy individuals and families.

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.

This case was 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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Steinkamp.



Updated April 30, 2015