Illinois school district worker, Vera Liddell, is being accused of taking $1.5 million in chicken wings KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt


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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Illinois school district worker, Vera Liddell, is being accused of taking $1.5 million in chicken wings

Illinois school district worker is being accused of taking $1.5 million in chicken wings! She is now in custody at the Cook County Jail with a $150,000 bond.

A food service director for a school district in Illinois is accused of stealing $1.5 million worth of food since July 2020. Authorities said that Vera Liddell, 66, ordered 11,000 cases of chicken wings from the Harvey School District's food provider, Gordon Food Service.

She then picked up the cases in a district-owned cargo van. But, instead of delivering the chicken wings to the schools, she allegedly kept them for herself. Officials did not say what Liddell did with all of the chicken wings.

Liddell's alleged theft was discovered during a routine audit of the district's budgets. The district's business manager was shocked when she found the district was $300,000 over its food service budget after the first half of the school year. An investigation uncovered multiple invoices for chicken wings that were signed by Liddell.

Chicken wings are not served to students because they contain bones.

Fraud was a big problem during the pandemic, but this is the first known allegation involving chicken wings. Most of the known cases involved abuses of the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

The House Oversight and Accountability Committee was set to open hearings on the loss of taxpayer dollars to fraud in the government’s $5 trillion in COVID-19 pandemic relief spending on Wednesday.

"She discovered individual invoices signed by Liddell for massive quantities of chicken wings, an item that was never served to students because they contain bones," prosecutors said.

Liddell was taken into custody and charged with felony continuing financial crimes enterprise and felony theft exceeding $1,000,000. She is being held at the Cook County Jail on a $150,000 bond.

“The massive fraud began at the height of COVID during a time when students were not allowed to be physically present in school,” court documents stated, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Even though the children were learning remotely, the school district continued to provide meals for the students that their families could pick up.”

Liddell was a longtime employee of the district, having worked there for more than 10 years. The chicken wing orders were discovered last year after an audit found the school had exceeded its annual budget by over $300,000, despite the school year being only halfway complete.

The Sun Times reports Liddell would bill the district for the orders but would keep the food. It added up to about 11,000 cases of chicken wings.

An audit by the school district’s business manager uncovered the unauthorized orders, WGN reports. The audit showed the district was $300,000 over its food budget by the halfway point of the school year.

A Cook County prosecutor tells WGN that chicken wings are not served to students because they contain bones.

Reports do not say what was done with the large amount of wings. Liddell was being held in the Cook County Jail on a $150,000 bond.

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Food scarcity is a crisis for students across the country and was heightened when schools closed during the pandemic, which temporarily prevented thousands of learners from school-provided meals that they depended on for nourishment.

Programs like the Illinois' school district's meal pick-up were intended to alleviate further disruption in student learning by continued access to substances, which was especially crucial to low-income families in the impoverished district.

Court records claimed that due to allegations against Liddell, those meals never made it to students.

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