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Cook County DA

A former school food services director is charged with stealing over $1.5 million worth of frozen chicken wings.

Vera Liddell, 66, is the former director of food services at Harvey School District 152 in the Chicago suburb of Harvey.

She was charged with felony financial crimes enterprise and felony theft exceeding $1,000,000.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office accused Liddell of a scheme to steal frozen chicken wings that cost taxpayers more than $1.5 million, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The scheme was launched during the COVID pandemic when funds were flowing to school districts to provide food despite the fact that students were learning remotely, and not in schools.

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According to the State’s Attorney’s office, from July 2020 until February 2022, Liddell placed hundreds of unauthorized orders for 11,000 cases of frozen chicken wings and other food items. The orders were placed through school district vendor Gordon Food Service, prosecutors said.

Gordon Food Service told investigators they believed the purchases were authorized and the district paid all of the invoices, prosecutors said.

The chicken wing caper was discovered in January 2022 when the district business manager conducted a routine mid-year audit and discovered the food service department was more than $300,000 over its annual budget while schools were closed.

An investigation uncovered multiple invoices signed by Liddell for mass quantities of frozen chicken wings, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors reviewed surveillance video that showed Liddell arriving at Gordon Food Service to pick up the cases of food in a district cargo van. But the food was never delivered to the schools, prosecutors said.

Furthermore, the school district doesn’t even serve chicken wings to students because they contain bones, prosecutors said.

Liddell worked for Chicago schools for more than 10 years. It isn’t clear what she did with the thousands of frozen chicken wings. Officials theorize she sold the frozen wings to restaurants as a lucrative side hustle.

Liddell was released from jail after posting 10% of her $150,000 bail. Her next court appearance is on Feb. 22, at the Sixth District Courthouse, the Attorney’s Office tells Inside Edition Digital.