A school administrator in Illinois has been accused of stealing $1.5 million worth of chicken wings

February 1, 2023, 3:47 PM UTC
A former director of food services for an Illinois school district is accused of stealing more than $1.5 million worth of food—mostly chicken wings.
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School lunches for one worker in Illinois may have been a lot more lucrative than you’d expect.

The Cook County State Attorney General’s office has accused a former director of food services for a local school district of stealing more than $1.5 million worth of school food—mostly chicken wings.

The alleged embezzlement scheme took place between July 2020 and February 2022, officials say. The worker is accused of placing hundreds of unauthorized orders, including 110,000 cases of chicken wings, which were never delivered to the school or provided to children.

Vera Liddell, 66, has been charged with felony theft and continuing a financial crimes enterprise. She is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 22.

“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.

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.

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