For The Love of Chicken: Former School Official Accused of Embezzling $1 Million Worth of Wings

For The Love of Chicken: Former School Official Accused of Embezzling $1 Million Worth of Wings

People will do anything for money – or for food.

A former food services director is accused of embezzling over $1 million worth of chicken wings, CBS News reports.

Vera Liddell, who used to work for the Harvey School District 52 in Illinois, allegedly placed hundreds of unauthorized orders of food during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those orders included 11,000 cases of frozen chicken wings. The State Attorney’s office says the schools were closed and classes were being held virtually.

However, the school district still provided meal pickup services.

According to NBC 5, the orders were placed through the district’s main food services supplier, Gordon Food Services, from July 2020 to February 2022. Prosecutors say the purchases were made separately from official orders made by the school district.

An audit of all the district’s departments was performed by the school district’s business manager and discovered the food service department exceeded the annual budget by $300,000, with only half the school year left.

Invoices were later found signed by Liddell for “massive quantities” of chicken wings, which isn’t typically served to students since they aren’t boneless. Prosecutors in the case say surveillance footage shows Liddell at Gordon Food Services to pick up the food orders. Liddell signed  an electronic keypad to acknowledge she received the chicken wings and the school district was later billed for them.  and leaving with them in a district cargo van.

The former school official put them in a district cargo van but the food was never brought back to the school or the students, as told by prosecutors to CBS News.

A statement, secured by CBS News, was issued by District 152 Interim Supt. Lela Bridges regarding the case but couldn’t comment further because of the ongoing investigation. “We are fully cooperating with the authorities regarding this matter.”