A former school official has been accused of embezzling $1.5 million worth of chicken wings
A former school official in the Chicago suburb of Harvey is accused of a bizarre scheme involving more than $1 million in stolen chicken wings. CBS Chicago reports.
Vera Liddell is the former Director of Food Services for Harvey School District 152.
The Cook County District Attorney’s Office alleges Liddell launched an embezzlement scheme that led to the theft of wards that cost more than $1.5 million in taxpayer money.
The alleged scheme began at a climax COVID-19 pandemic, when schools were closed by order of the state and replaced with virtual learning. Despite the fact that children were learning remotely, the school district was still serving meals, according to the state attorney general’s office.
From July 2020 through February 2022, Liddell placed hundreds of unauthorized orders for food items — including 11,000 cases of chicken wings billed to the district at more than $1.5 million — through school district vendor Gordon Food Service, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the purchases were made separately from Sharia orders issued by the school district.
Prosecutors said Gordon Food Service believed all purchases were approved and billed the district for everything. The district paid the bills in full – including unauthorized purchases.
But in January 2022, the district business manager conducted a routine mid-year audit and discovered that the food service division was more than $300,000 over its annual budget, with the school year only about half over, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said a closer review revealed individual invoices signed by Liddell for ridiculous amounts of chicken wings.
Surveillance video showed Liddell showed up at Gordon Food Service to pick up food orders and would leave with them in a local freight van. But prosecutors said the food was not brought to the school or the students.
It wasn’t clear, prosecutors said, what she did with the chicken wings.
Prosecutors said the school district does not even serve chicken wings to students because they contain bones.
District 152 Temporary Supt. Lila Bridges issued a statement late Monday saying, “The county is unable to comment at this time due to an ongoing investigation. However, we are cooperating fully with authorities regarding this matter.”