No St. Lawrence County stores are among the more than 2,000 nationwide disqualified from accepting food stamps, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In an effort to identify and eliminate fraudulent retailers from its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Food Stamps, USDA compliance analysts and investigators reviewed over 15,000 stores in the U.S. and conducted investigations on more than 5,000 stores nationwide.
Of those, USDA imposed sanctions, through fines or temporary disqualifications, on 692 stores found violating program rules and permanently disqualified 1,387 stores for trafficking in SNAP benefits – that is, exchanging SNAP benefits for cash -- or falsifying an application.
No violators were found in St. Lawrence County in 2012, USDA spokesman Han Billger said.
"Our message today is clear and firm: abuse of SNAP benefits—and the American taxpayer’s trust—will not be tolerated and carries severe consequences," said Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon.
"In the coming year, we will take further steps to strengthen SNAP integrity and continue to hold accountable those few bad actors that try to take advantage of the program. We are committed to ensuring these dollars are spent as intended - helping millions of American families put healthy food on the table.”
USDA said it continues to work with local, state and federal partners to root out fraud, waste and abuse in SNAP and ensure the integrity of the nation's most important food assistance program.