Lynnwood grocer fined $29,000 for $55 sale

SEATTLE (AP) - A market in Lynnwood is facing a fine of more than $29,000 for allowing people to use federal food assistance to buy items they weren't supposed to: specifically, a few metal sieves, mortars-and-pestles, a box of henna and a teapot, all totaling less than $55.

JD's Market says the U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered it to pay $29,214 for allowing undercover personnel to buy the items during a compliance check. It filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle this week arguing that the fine is excessive and violates the Constitution.

Its attorney, Kenneth Kagan, says the market serves a wide array of African and South Asian customers with food they can't easily find elsewhere in the neighborhood. He says the fine is disproportionate to the offense and would devastate the market.

A spokeswoman for the USDA did not immediately return a call seeking comment