Lawmakers want tougher penalties for food benefits fraud

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Two Pennsylvania senators say they’ll introduce legislation to create stronger penalties against people who defraud the state’s food assistance program.

Sens. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Judy Schwank (D-Berks) said their proposal would prevent people from illegally trading money, goods, or services in exchange for SNAP benefits.

People convicted of SNAP trafficking could be found guilty of a second-degree felony and be required to pay restitution of up to three times the amount of the fraud they committed.

Aument and Schwank said the bill is being introduced at the request of the Office of State Inspector General, which last year uncovered a scheme involving a Harrisburg restaurant that was trading drugs for EBT cards and buying food from wholesale club to be resold for profit.

The plot involved the fraudulent use of nearly 60 different SNAP recipients’ benefits.

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