This is in NYC. Our records are clean.
We were receiving food stamp for a year in 2011. The total amount received is about $3700. Of which, about $2500 might be overpayment, due to our failure to report a change in income. We honestly did not know the rule regarding change reporting since this is our first time getting FS. The Social Service found out about this only when we reported our income during the recertification interview. Our FS was immediately cancelled. Our case is pending calculation of actual overpayment for repayment.
We did a little research and found that there are 3 things that can happen from here on:
Scenario A) The SS treats this as an “inadvertent household error” and demand restitution.
We are OK with this. We will gladly repay any amount we are not entitled to.
Scenario B) The SS brings an administrative hearing and charge us “intentional program violation IPV”.
We are less OK with this, but we will not fight, since this is a civil case. We will not sign any guilty plea but will pay restitution.
Scenario C) The SS refers the case to DA for prosecution.
This will be devastating. Even though we most likely won’t get any jail time due to our clean record, this will definitely cause our job, and a felony record will have us end up back at the FS line again! We will hire lawyer and fight to the end.
Since the three scenarios are not mutually exclusive, we thought it is most logical to be prepare for the worst case, Scenario C). Please answer the following questions:
1) The dominant question. How likely case like this get referred to the DA? And IF it is referred, how likely will the DA accept it? Please answer with experience/actual knowledge. Also consider the amount involved in the case and our clean record.
2) What course of action should we take now to avoid ending up in this scenario?
3) In the court, is the “I-honestly-did-not-know” a good defense in case like this?
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