House votes to hike penalties for food assistance trafficking

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The Pennsylvania legislature has given final approval to a bill that would create stronger penalties for food assistance trafficking.

The state House of Representative approved Senate Bill 1127 on Tuesday by a vote of 166-24. The Senate passed it unanimously in June.

The bill targets people and businesses who buy EBT cards from recipients for just a fraction of the value then use the cards to purchase merchandise for stores.

Under the bill, fraudulent trafficking of SNAP benefits in an amount greater than $2,500 would be a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The crime currently is graded as a third-degree felony.

Those convicted could be required to pay restitution of up to three times the amount of the fraud they committed.

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