School audit shows theft of $1.5M in food, mostly wings
HARVEY, Ill. (AP) — A Chicago-area school district official has been charged in the theft of $1.5 million worth of food — mostly chicken wings.
Vera Liddell, 66, was being held in the Cook County Jail on a $150,000 bond, WGN-TV reported Monday.
Liddell worked as food service director for Harvey School District 152.
More than 11,000 cases of chicken wings were ordered from the district’s food provider and then picked up in a district cargo van, according to court documents reviewed by the television station.
The food was ordered during the height of the coronavirus pandemic at a time when students were being educated remotely and not allowed to attend class in school buildings. The district continued to provide meals for students that their parents could pick up.
Prosecutors say district funds were used to pay for the food, but none of it was taken to the district or provided to students. A routine mid-year audit found the district was $300,000 over its annual food service budget, despite being only halfway through that academic year.
The district’s business manager discovered signed invoices for “massive quantities of chicken wings, an item that was never served to students because they contain bones,” prosecutors said.
The Associated Press was unable Monday afternoon to determine if Liddell has an attorney.
More than 80% of the 1,600 students attending the district’s five schools qualify as low-income, according to the television station.