1997 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Short
House Bill 336
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 97-7-42 AND 97-19-71, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS INVOLVING THE FOOD STAMP PROGRAM; TO CLARIFY THAT CERTAIN ACTIONS CONSTITUTE VIOLATIONS OF THOSE SECTIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-7-42, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-7-42. Any person, cashier, clerk, other retail employee or retail proprietor who knowingly:
(a) Obtains or attempts to obtain, or aids or abets any person to obtain food stamps, or like successor benefits, by means of a willfully false statement or representation or by impersonation or in any manner not authorized by law or regulations issued by the State Department of Human Services, or presents or causes to be presented any food stamps, or like successor benefits, to which he is not entitled or food stamps of a greater value than that to which he is justly entitled; or
(b) Purchases or allows to be purchased with food stamps, or any like successor benefits, any item or items which violate, or in a manner which violates applicable state or federal laws or regulations; or
(c) Any person who sells or gives food stamps, or like successor benefits, which he legally possesses to another person, and any person not legally entitled to food stamps, or like successor benefits, who accepts or purchases same; shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) and make full restitution, or shall be imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one (1) year, or both in the discretion of the court; each violation shall be a separate and distinct offense.
SECTION 2. Section 97-19-71, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-19-71. (1) Any person who knowingly:
(a) Fails, by false statement, misrepresentation, impersonation, or other fraudulent means, to disclose a material fact used in making a determination as to such person's qualification to receive aid or benefits or services under any state or federally funded assistance program; or
(b) Fails to disclose a change in circumstances in order to obtain or continue to receive under any such program aid or benefits or services to which he is not entitled or in an amount larger than that to which he is entitled, or who knowingly aids and abets another person in the commission of any such act;
is guilty of fraud.
(2) Any person, cashier, clerk, other retail employee or retail proprietor who knowingly:
(a) Uses, transfers, acquires, traffics, alters, forges, * * * possesses, purchases or sells; or
(b) Attempts to use, transfer, acquire, traffic, alter, forge, * * * possess, purchase or sell; or
(c) Aids and abets another person in the use, transfer, acquisition, traffic, alteration, forgery, possession, purchase or sale of a food stamp or like successor benefit, a food stamp identification card, an authorization for the purchase of food stamps or like successor benefits, a certificate of eligibility for medical services, or a Medicaid identification card, for profit or in any manner which violates any law or regulations issued by the agency responsible for the administration of the state or federally funded program;
is guilty of fraud.
(3) Any person having duties in the administration of a state or federally funded assistance program who fraudulently misappropriates, attempts to misappropriate, or aids and abets in the misappropriation of, a food stamp or like successor benefit, an authorization for food stamps or like successor benefits, a food stamp identification card, a certificate of eligibility for prescribed medicine, a Medicaid identification card, or assistance from any other state or federally funded program with which he has been entrusted or of which he has gained possession by virtue of his position, or who knowingly fails to disclose any such fraudulent activity, is guilty of fraud.
(4) Any person who:
(a) Knowingly files, attempts to file, or aids and abets in the filing of, a claim for services to a recipient of benefits under any state or federally funded assistance program for services which were not rendered; knowingly files a false claim for nonauthorized items or services under such a program; or knowingly bills the recipient of benefits under such a program, or his family, for an amount in excess of that provided for by law or regulations; or
(b) In any way knowingly receives, attempts to receive, or aids and abets in the receipt of unauthorized payment as provided herein is guilty of fraud.
(5) Any person who knowingly signs, or aids and abets any person to sign, a false application for the replacement of benefits or aid to which that person is entitled claiming that person's benefits or aid was not received, is guilty of fraud.
(6) Any person convicted of the crime of fraud under this section shall be:
(a) Punished by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for a term of not less than one (1) year and not more than five (5) years, and fined not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) nor more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00); and
* * *
(b) Ordered to make full restitution of the money or services or the value of those services unlawfully received; and
(c) Where the legislation creating a program allows, suspended from participation in the program for the length of time allowed by the legislation creating the program.
(7) Each violation of this section shall constitute and be held as a separate and distinct offense.
(8) This section shall not prohibit prosecution under any other criminal statute of this state or the United States.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.