Simas & Associates, Ltd. Newsletter | May 6, 2016 | Volume IV, Issue 5
Firm Announcement

Client Beats Rap from SNAP

Sacramento, CA — Early this week we received notification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("SNAP") that a previously issued determination permanently disqualifying one of our clients from participation was being rescinded. In its place, new correspondence was issued indicating that their investigation was closed and that our client was immediately reinstated to the program. 

"Not even a fine," explained Steven L. Simas, owner of Simas & Associates, Ltd. "Such a turnaround is unprecedented in our many years of experience working with SNAP and WIC (i.e. this is the California equivalent, run by the Department of Public Health, Food and Nutrtion Services, Women, Infants and Children ["WIC"]) program is a fantastic result for our clients."

SNAP is the largest supplemental food program in the nation. It offers food and nourishment assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. They are provided coupons or vouchers that can be redeemed at eligible vendors. Eligible vendors are typically found in economically-challenged communities, as was the client in our matter.

"The SNAP national payment error rate is at approximately 4%," explained Simas. "However, SNAP did not just magically achieve such a result. Rather, it takes an extremely aggressive stance on fraud, waste, and just mistakes. It is swift in taking in action. And no amount of abuse is too small. We have seen it suspend vendors in the past over two overcharges of a combined $9."

In this particular case, the client had a very unique business that served the entire state of California from a single location. The client acquired foods and ingredients that were particularly focused on their ancestral homeland, which is a small, but vibrant minority community in the state. 

"In the initial Charge Letter," Lindsay Yoshitomi, Associate Attorney at the Sacramento Office, "our client was suspected of trafficking for 'repetitive patterns of unusual, irregular, and inexplicable' EBT transactions that occurred in a 6 month period in 2015. This included excessively large purchase transactions from recipient accounts, multiple transactions from individual benefit accounts in unusually short time frames, a majority or all of the individual recipient benefits being exhausted in unusually short time frames, and an excessive number of manual key entered EBT transactions.”

However, Simas & Associates, Ltd. was able to prove that there was nothing particularly unusual about any of these activities. In fact, our client had sold and its customers had made purchases in the same pattern for over two years prior.

"Many of the items sold at our client's mart came from overseas, were rare, were considered delicacies, and thus, were expensive," explained Yoshitomi. "In addition, those purchasing using SNAP vouchers came from large households of 10-15 people from very long distances throughout the state. As such, they would buy a large amount of food to help feed the household for up to a month."

So, to disprove the allegations, Simas & Associates, Ltd. hired a private investigator to conduct its own investigation. 

"The investigator reviewed the mart, interviewing employees, SNAP-using customers, and regular, cash-paying customers," explained Simas. "The investigator determined that the mart did not use a sophisticated point-of-sale system, employees echoed the position of the client, and customers - both cash and SNAP using - engaged in the behaviors as described by our client. For example, When asked about the quantities of products purchased, one customer told the private investigator that they buy 40 pounds of taro, 40 pounds of beef brisket, 22 pounds of lamb flap, 22 pounds of turkey tail, and a case of corned beef (there are 24 in a case) per visit. A cash paying customer similarly spent over $1,000 per month on “2 cases of corned beef, 5 cases of chicken, 2 lamb flaps, and 4 bags of taro.”

And the wholesale purchases by the mart reflected the overall cost of the underlying inventory. On an average month, it was in excess of $40,000.

Ultimately, an explanatory omnibus detailing the client, including the work of the investigator, months of receipts and invoices, and internal policies for following appropriate SNAP redemption protocol were submitted on behalf of the client in March 2016. This took extensive time from many members of the firm, including paralegals, Rachelle Allison-Lamb and Julianne Allen. Two months later, SNAP notified the law that they were walking back their previous decision.

"Again - unprecedented," exclaimed Simas. "Even though the rules are set up in its favor to exercise its discretion how it sees fit, SNAP will relent. However, it takes focus, determination, and evidence from multiple channels to do so. Our client's persistence that they did nothing wrong was also a great motivator to our team to ensure that justice prevailed. And in this case, I can definitely say that it has."

For more information on Simas & Associates, Ltd. and its health care law and administrative hearing practice please visit our website at
Staff Announcement

Happy Mothers' Day Weekend

Simas & Associates, Ltd. would like to wish all Mothers a wonderful Mothers' Day weekend. However, we also wanted to take note of our own Mothers and the many different ways their love, companionship, guidance, persistence, and faith played a role in each member of our team's growth and development.

With that in mind, it is important to point out that some of our team members are mothers themselves:
  • Michaele Simas, Operations Manager
  • Amanda Lilley, Firm Administrator
  • Sharon Cain, Administrative Assistant
  • Carla Spencer, Billing Coordinator
  • Carly Molash, Paralegal
Given all that you undoubtedly do or have done on behalf of your little ones over the years, thank you for still being able to contribute so much to our law firm. Your teammates and our clients could not do it without you.

Have a great weekend!
Client/Vendor of the Month
South Coast Therapy, Inc.
11205 Knott Avenue, Suite E
Cypress, CA 90630
P: (714) 893-7399
F: (714) 893-7389

South Coast Therapy provides comprehensive, family focused, therapy services for infants and children with special needs. 

Their pediatric physical, occupational and speech-language therapy services are provided in a specially equipped clinic designed to support interactive, child centered play and activity based intervention. Therapy consultation and collaboration is also provided in a variety of community based, natural environment settings, including homes, day cares and schools as necessary to support optimal progress and provide adaptations. 

Simas & Associates, Ltd. appreciates the opportunity to serve South Coast Therapy, Inc. as its counsel. If you would like to be featured as our law firm’s “Client/Vendor of the Month,” please contact us at
Featured Agency Announcement

California Raises Legal Age to Buy Tobacco From 18 to 21

Sacramento, CA — California Gov. Jerry Brown approved raising the legal age to buy tobacco for smoking, dipping, chewing and vaping from 18 to 21.

The new law, which will take effect June 9, makes California the second state to raise the legal smoking age to 21. It will not apply to military personnel. Gov. Brown did not say why he signed the measure along with four others restricting tobacco use in various ways, and his staff declined to comment.

"The action speaks for itself," Brown spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said.

Supporters of the law said it aims to deter adolescents from the harmful, sometimes fatal effects of nicotine addiction. The Institute of Medicine reports that 90 percent of daily smokers began using tobacco before turning 19. Lawmakers and health advocates applauded the move and expect other states to follow California's lead.

"By increasing the tobacco age to 21, the nation's largest state provides incredible momentum to similar efforts nationwide," Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.

Representatives of tobacco organization Altria Group Inc. declined to comment Wednesday, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. did not return calls.

The vaping industry has portrayed its products as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco, and one industry group, the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, released a statement calling the governor's move "a step backwards." It penalizes smokers who are trying to quit through using vapor products, the statement said.
Featured Blog Entry

Risk of Alcohol Abuse after Gastric Bypass Surgery

Obesity is no longer considered just a case of over-eating and lack of self-control. It is acknowledged as a “chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors” by various International and National scientific organizations, including the World Health Organization. The National Institute of Health recommends bariatric surgery as an effective treatment for weight-loss and maintenance of that weight-loss for people who are obese. However, it has been noted that those who’ve had gastric-bypass surgery are at increased risk for becoming sensitized to alcohol.

Gastric-bypass surgery changes the way your stomach and intestines processes food to aid in rapid weight loss. Your stomach is divided into an upper and lower part. The upper part, which is the smaller of the two, is where the food consumed goes.  The middle part of the small intestine is then re-routed to connect to the upper stomach. This smaller stomach along with the shorter intestine limits the amount of food you eat and minimizes the number of calories absorbed by the body so that weight loss is rapid and, provided you follow post-operative directions, maintained over the long run.

It has been noticed that individuals are more susceptible to becoming sensitized to alcohol after gastric-bypass surgery, and possibly causing over-indulgence and alcoholism.

To keep reading this entry, please click here: Risk of Alcohol Abuse after Gastric Bypass Surgery
. For more blog entries from our attorneys and legal staff, please visit our law firm’s official blog – Wit of Mandate.
Boys of Summer

Please visit Simas & Associates, Ltd.'s photo gallery on Facebook for more photographs of the beloved Orioles of El Paso de Robles. 
Word of the Month

Back pay

A common remedy for wage violations is an order that the employer make up the difference between what the employee was paid and the amount he or she should have been paid. In the alternative, it can also be the wages or compensation an employee would have earned but for the wrongful termination or other adverse action by the employer. The amount of this sum is often referred to as “back pay” or commonly misspelled as “backpay.” Sources of the award include litigation, state labor or personnel boards, or the U.S. Department of Labor.

For more terms related to our practice areas, please visit our law firm’s glossary at - Glossary.
Upcoming Calendar

May 6 - Happy National Nurses' Day!

May 8 - Happy Mother's Day!

May 11 - Happy National Receptionists' Day! Also,
Bad Pet or Bad Owner by the San Diego County Bar Association.

May 12 - Annual Law Day Dinner Celebration for the Sacramento County Bar Association.

May 13 - Happy Frog-Jumping Day!

May 15 - Police Officer's Memorial Day.

May 21 - National Waiters' and Waitresses' Day.

May 24 - National Escargot Day.
Appellate Court Justices Reception by the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association.

May 25 - SCBA Administrative Law Section MCLE Luncheon.

May 30 - Memorial Day - offices closed.

June 2 -
Employment Arbitrations by Sonoma County Bar Association.

June 3 - National Doughnut Day. Not a good holiday to forget.

And congratulations to
Rachelle Allison-Lamb and Justin D. Hein on their respective work anniversaries!
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