United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 01, 2024
Regulations promulgated under this chapter shall provide criteria for the finding of a violation of, the suspension or disqualification of and the assessment of a civil penalty against a retail food store or wholesale food concern on the basis of evidence that may include facts established through on-site investigations, inconsistent redemption data, or evidence obtained through a transaction report under an electronic benefit transfer system.
In addition to a disqualification under this section, the Secretary may assess a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $100,000 for each violation.
The action of disqualification or the imposition of a civil penalty shall be subject to review as provided in section 2023 of this title.
As a condition of authorization to accept and redeem benefits, the Secretary may require a retail food store or wholesale food concern that, pursuant to subsection (a), has been disqualified for more than 180 days, or has been subjected to a civil penalty in lieu of a disqualification period of more than 180 days, to furnish a collateral bond or irrevocable letter of credit for a period of not more than 5 years to cover the value of benefits that the store or concern may in the future accept and redeem in violation of this chapter.
The Secretary also may require a retail food store or wholesale food concern that has been sanctioned for a violation and incurs a subsequent sanction regardless of the length of the disqualification period to submit a collateral bond or irrevocable letter of credit.
The Secretary shall, by regulation, prescribe the amount, terms, and conditions of such bond.
If the Secretary finds that such store or concern has accepted and redeemed coupons in violation of this chapter after furnishing such bond, such store or concern shall forfeit to the Secretary an amount of such bond which is equal to the value of coupons accepted and redeemed by such store or concern in violation of this chapter.
A store or concern described in paragraph (4) may obtain a hearing on such forfeiture pursuant to section 2023 of this title.
The Secretary may impose a fine against any person not approved by the Secretary to accept and redeem food coupons who violates any provision of this chapter or a regulation issued under this chapter, including violations concerning the acceptance of food coupons. The amount of any such fine shall be established by the Secretary and may be assessed and collected in accordance with regulations issued under this chapter separately or in combination with any fiscal claim established by the Secretary. The Attorney General of the United States may institute judicial action in any court of competent jurisdiction against the person to collect the fine.
The Secretary shall issue regulations providing criteria for the disqualification under this chapter of an approved retail food store or a wholesale food concern that is disqualified from accepting benefits under the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children established under section 1786 of title 42.
The Secretary, in consultation with the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture, shall establish procedures under which the processing of program benefit redemptions for a retail food store or wholesale food concern may be immediately suspended pending administrative action to disqualify the retail food store or wholesale food concern.
The Secretary shall not be liable for the value of any interest on funds suspended under this subsection.
The Secretary shall carry out, under such terms and conditions as are determined by the Secretary, pilot projects to test innovative Federal-State partnerships to identify, investigate, and reduce fraud by retail food stores and wholesale food concerns in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, including allowing States to operate programs to investigate that fraud.
The Secretary shall evaluate the pilot projects selected under this subsection to measure the impact of the pilot projects.
Any costs incurred by a State to operate pilot projects under this subsection that are in excess of the amount expended under this chapter to identify, investigate, and reduce fraud described in paragraph (1)(A) in the respective State in the previous fiscal year shall not be eligible for Federal reimbursement under this chapter.