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Illinois School Worker Allegedly Stole $1.5 Million of Food, Mostly Chicken Wings, From District

Illinois School Worker Allegedly Stole $1.5 Million of Food, Mostly Chicken Wings, From District

Gordon Food Service knew Vera Liddell because of “the massive amount of chicken wings she would purchase.”

I had to write about this because it’s so crazy.

Vera Liddell, 66, has been charged with stealing food worth $1.5 million from Harvey School District 152. She worked there for over ten years.

Liddel loves chicken wings. From WGN News:

“The massive fraud began at the height of COVID during a time when students were not allowed to be physically present in school,” reads a proffer presented at Liddell’s bond hearing. “Even though the children were learning remotely, the school district continued to provide meals for the students that their families could pick up.”

Court records accuse Liddell of ordering more than 11,000 cases of chicken wings from the school district’s food provider and then picking-up the order in a district cargo van.

Gordon Food Service knew Liddell because of “the massive amount of chicken wings she would purchase.”

No one brought the food to the school or gave it to the kids. No one knows what happened to the chicken wings.

The district’s business manager found out about Liddell’s scheme “during a routine mid-year audit:

The manager found the district was $300,000 over its annual food service budget despite only being halfway through the school year, according to prosecutors.

“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.

Harvey School District has about 1,600 students. Over 80% of the students are “low income.”


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Stole 1.5 million, mostly chicken wings? I was going to say “That’s a helluva lot of chicken wings,” but that was before the fire.

She obviously has a friend, boyfriend or relative operating a restaurant.

Other than running that down, she owes the school sufficient money that they should be putting liens on any possessions or accounts and searching her home and illegal helpers homes for money stashes

    The_Mew_Cat in reply to BobM. | January 31, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    That is a lot of wings for a single restaurant – even for one that specializes in wings. She must have been selling them to bars all over town.

      If you are crazy enough to think that you can buy thousands of cases of chicken wings without anyone noticing, you might be crazy enough to do something crazy with those cases of chicken wings, like dump them in a landfill or heave them into a lake. Perhaps some of them were resold, perhaps none of them were.

The only thing that surprises me about this is that they actually bothered to investigate and caught her.

Stuff like this is insanely widespread and everybody knows it.

Food, classroom supplies, etc, they massively overspend buying a bunch of crap that they resell and pocket the money.

    Otto Kringelein in reply to Olinser. | January 31, 2023 at 6:36 pm

    Well, she was pretty darn obvious about it. Order $1.5 million dollars worth of chicken wings (a product you cannot serve as school lunches because they contain bones) and then actually sign the invoices for the product pretty much is so in your face it cannot be ignored.

    What surprises me is that this has become public knowledge. Usually when stuff like this goes down the school district will do everything in their power to keep it out of the press.

Anyone seen Lori Lightfoot recently?

Not thinking very deeply, I just wonder how many wings that added up to.

    The_Mew_Cat in reply to gatorbait. | January 31, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    If you figure about 50 cents a wing wholesale, that makes 3 million.

      Milhouse in reply to The_Mew_Cat. | January 31, 2023 at 6:18 pm

      Surely it’s less than 50 cents a wing wholesale. I buy only kosher meat, which is automatically significantly more expensive, and I buy retail, and yet I usually pay $2 a pound and sometimes even less than that. If an average wing is a bit over 3 ounces, that works out to something like 40 cents a wing. So I can’t imagine that the non-kosher wholesale price is more than that.

    Paula in reply to gatorbait. | January 31, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    She didn’t keep track. She was winging it!

I represented Phd school district employees, and let me tell you: this is ‘normal’ in big city school districts, where hires like this woman forge documents in furtherancrle of embezzlement. Guess who their ‘big guys’ are? Yup – the administrators.

This is what democrat/GOPeparty government looks like.

E Howard Hunt | January 31, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Self censorship allowed her to do it.

Reparations. Stop this persecution you bigots and racists

If a routine audit was sufficient to expose the fraud why do it take ten years? It took an errant $300K but not a missing $50K in early years? No bureaucracy should escape out

    CommoChief in reply to CommoChief. | January 31, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    outside audits every six months.

      Olinser in reply to CommoChief. | January 31, 2023 at 6:51 pm

      And why would they do that?

      This is what government bureaucracy always ends in.

      A bunch of lazy jackasses with no skin in the game who SIMPLY DO NOT CARE if money gets stolen. It’s not THEIR money.

    You wouldn’t believe how vast and prolific this kind of embezzlement is in the public school systems. And, of course, it only exists because the higher-ups of the likes of this woman get their cut of the embezzled money.

    Milhouse in reply to CommoChief. | January 31, 2023 at 6:25 pm

    It didn’t take ten years. You didn’t read the article. The fraud only started about two years ago, “at the height of COVID”. So it took only a year or two.

    And it wasn’t just $300K that was missing. The district was $300K over budget. That means she’d spent the entire year’s budget, plus $300K. Now some of that went for actual meals that were prepared for the parents to pick up. But not enough to spend the whole year’s budget in only half a year, let alone to go $300K over.

    If she’d been careful and stayed within the budget for the year, and more so if she’d been careful to buy only ingredients that the district was legitimately buying for its actual meals, she wouldn’t have been caught. It was the combination of overspending and the presence of receipts for something the district had no legitimate use for that did it.

      CommoChief in reply to Milhouse. | January 31, 2023 at 7:02 pm

      Settle down Milhouse. I can and did read it. I am unwilling to be convinced that this person was acting with complete honesty for the first years of her employment. Newly dishonest people don’t generally start off with a $1.5 million scam.

      Every institution should rely upon outside audits to check their books. An audit isn’t simply balancing the books it is also looking at the outputs and inputs for things that don’t make sense.

        guyjones in reply to CommoChief. | January 31, 2023 at 7:30 pm

        Agreed. Look at Rita Crundwell’s example.

        Milhouse in reply to CommoChief. | January 31, 2023 at 7:35 pm

        You asked why it took ten years to detect the scam. The answer is it didn’t. So obviously you didn’t read it, you skimmed it carelessly. Nor did you read it if you thought there was only $300K missing.

        This opportunity wasn’t available until two years ago.

        She may have engaged in other lesser scams earlier, which went undetected because they were smaller and at a time when there was a lot going on. Or maybe she never did anything more than put a few items in her bag every time she left work, or add a few items for herself to the school’s order, until she saw this opportunity and took it.

          CommoChief in reply to Milhouse. | February 1, 2023 at 11:17 am

          You are making an assumption based upon an inference due to my, admittedly, poor phrasing. I can see how you formed that and I’ll just take an L so we can move on.

      txvet2 in reply to Milhouse. | January 31, 2023 at 10:59 pm

      You might want to avoid this particular article, because it’s also featured on Gateway Pundit.

        Milhouse in reply to txvet2. | February 1, 2023 at 2:09 am

        Why would that make me avoid it? As I keep saying, any story that’s true and worth noticing will be reported elsewhere, so there’s no need to cite it from there. Any story that isn’t reported elsewhere is a load of bullshit, and so shouldn’t be cited at all. Therefore no story should ever be cited from there.

    dave magill in reply to CommoChief. | February 1, 2023 at 11:12 am

    The article says the fraud began at the height of Covid, so over 2 years, not 10. It was probably caught at the first audit after the initial fraud. Her boss and bosses boss must have been in on it and should be fired, whether they were in on it or not.

      CommoChief in reply to dave magill. | February 1, 2023 at 11:23 am

      I would submit that most criminals start small. Especially inside jobs like theft from employers. They commit small acts and if undetected grow bolder. Obviously that isn’t part of the article. I would expect that if an examination of what food expenditures were made v what ended up being served there would be a longer pattern.

“the chicken bandit”–living proof that there’s a helluva lot more that’s been stolen with a pen than will ever be stolen with guns

The Gentle Grizzly | January 31, 2023 at 4:17 pm

The headline combined with the picture…

(Don’t even go near there, Bear…)

    A million and a half chicken wings is equal to roughly one dozen bear claws or about half dozen bear hamhocks. From looking at her picture, she appears to have indulged a time or two.

    So yeah, stay away from her.

Close The Fed | January 31, 2023 at 4:30 pm

I wouldn’t give anyone a penny for a million chicken wings.

Ewww, gross.

All together now:
Education. Check.
Embezzlement. Check.
Female. Check.

All I can say is… how does she manage to keep that healthy figure?

    Of course, you were afraid to point out the obvious……….

    Black. Check.

      henrybowman in reply to RickP. | February 1, 2023 at 11:09 pm

      Well, no. Among the last few years of stories about women embezzling funds from educational institutions, this may in fact be the first black one to come to my attention. It’s also possible that the race of several of the earlier ones was just not disclosed.

I don’t know what disturbs me more the massive theft, the fact that it she was able to steal 1.5 million of anything, or the phrase; “chicken wings, an item that was never served to students because they contain bones”.

Was expecting to see Stacey Abrams in pic.

Murphy’s Pub in Old Town Alexandria has 65 cent wings on Wednesday nights (which is a good deal these days), and they go through lots of wings. I doubt that a restaurant like that could go through millions of wings in even a 10 years period. Maybe all the pubs on the street together could go through that many.

She never takes possession of the product – the wholesaler simply resells them to legitimate businesses and she gets a percentage?

    Milhouse in reply to Tiki. | January 31, 2023 at 6:28 pm

    That would make sense, except that the staff at the wholesaler say they remember her rocking up with her school district van and picking up all those wings. They figured the kids must love wings.

    Otto Kringelein in reply to Tiki. | January 31, 2023 at 6:48 pm

    Vera gets a percentage. The unnamed person that signed the checks to the food service provider gets a cut. And the food service provider gets a cut and gets to resell the undelivered chicken wings again.

      henrybowman in reply to Otto Kringelein. | January 31, 2023 at 6:56 pm

      Only one problem with that analysis. If you’re never going to deliver the food anyway, it makes more sense to order food that the kids actually eat. No, she picked up them wings.

        @Millhouse I saw that. 1100 cases. I was thinking frozen raw chicken wings cost $1 a pound jobber? Probably less? 300,000 pounds of chicken. Dang.

        She definitely had a buyer. Or she owns a hog farm. The movie Snatch when Bricktop talks about hungry pigs shearing through raw meat and bones at 20 pounds an hour – something like that!

Otto Kringelein | January 31, 2023 at 6:46 pm

I’m thinking there’s more to this then we’re being told. Vera Liddell might have been the one signing the invoices for the massive amounts of chicken wings but I’d like to know who was actually signing the checks over to the food service company for these massive amounts of unusable food. And for that matter who at the food service provider was cashing those checks. I’m thinking at least three (if not more) profited from this embezzlement scheme.

    Gordon is a very large national company that supplies many different types of business / institutional customers. Maybe the local operation is corrupt but I doubt the company is.

Black market?

“Gastronomic reparations.”

amatuerwrangler | January 31, 2023 at 7:48 pm

My experience (limited to a small investigative unit in a decent sized PD) tells me that the food distributor made his cut with the overcharging for the original product. He had, most likely, a locked contract and his invoices were processed with only the “Amount Due” being read. I could have saved real money with a “cash” fund so I could buy office supplies at a cut-rate source (Office Depot, etc) and be reimbursed with receipts. But, no, the preferred sources had to be used.

No one knew that the wings were even purchased until the red light came on to announce the over-budget condition; then someone actually looked at the invoices. By that time the fox was well down the road with the grey goose.

She probably had many people who would happily pay “wholesale” or less for them…

And she knew that she would never have to seriously answer, should she be caught. She is of the group that is not held responsible for their crimes.

When you are ordering from a food service company like Sysco they sell by the case/box. Those boxes are usually 40lbs of product. She bought / stole 11,000 cases or about 440,000 lbs. That is 10-11 full sized tractor trailer loads of chicken wings.
One would have to have a sophisticated network to get and distribute that many wings

The Harvey area is low income, high crime and mass corruption. This is what happens when you vote socialists in positions of power. Someone probably didn’t get their cut and blew the whistle on her.

    JimWoo in reply to Reader45. | February 1, 2023 at 12:35 am

    I live within 15 miles of Harvey IL since 60’s. At one time say 1970 they had Dixie Square; one of the first completely indoor malls in America. It was beautiful and in the Blues Brothers movie when it was on its last legs as a shopping center. 5yrs after it opened the neighborhood changed.

      Reader45 in reply to JimWoo. | February 1, 2023 at 12:53 am

      JimWoo-same here, but no longer live near there. It is sad to see what happened to that area. I remember when they filmed the Blue Brothers in that mall.

What a great opportunity to link to Cab Calloway’s classic “A Chicken Ain’t Nothin’ but a Bird.” You Tube won’t play it so didn’t put up the link, but if you’re inclined, find it somewhere and listen, it’s wonderful, classic Cab Calloway at his best.

Typical chicken wing case = 40 pounds.
From the story, she stole 11,000 cases.
11,000 cases x 40 pounds = 440,000 pounds.
That’s 220 tons of chicken wings!!!

Char Char Binks | February 1, 2023 at 5:44 pm

Ain’t no thing

Come on man. This stuff just writes itself. She sell them to restaurants and them sell them as TRUE “HOT WINGS”

Sorry not enough caffeine this am, Sells and they