What did Vera Liddell do? Illinois woman charged over stealing chicken wings from school district

Vera Liddell is charged with stealing $1.5 million food over almost two years, (Image via Mostly Peaceful Dante 🇺🇸/Twitter)
Vera Liddell is charged with stealing $1.5 million worth of food over almost two years. (Image via Mostly Peaceful Dante 🇺🇸/Twitter)

A 66-year-old Illinois woman named Vera Liddell is alleged to have stolen $1.5 million worth of food, mostly chicken wings, over two years. The massive “food heist” came to light after an audit revealed that the school district was thousands of dollars over budget.

Vera Liddell allegedly placed unauthorized orders with the primary food supplier of the Harvey School District. Vera was reportedly the food services director of the public school at the time. She currently faces charges of theft and financial crimes exceeding $1 million.

According to court documents, Vera Liddell began stealing when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak. Although the children did not physically come to school, their meals were picked up by the families during that time. Prosecutors found that this was when Liddell began the theft.

Former Harvey School District employee Vera Liddell bought 11,000 cases of wings with the school's funds

An audit discovered that the Harvey School District was around $300,000 over budget, even though only half a school year had passed. It was then revealed that a former employee, who was then the food services director of the school, was committing a massive fraud.

She allegedly stole $1.5 million in food, mostly chicken wings. Around 11,000 cases of wings were bought using school funds, and Vera Liddell kept them all for herself.

According to court documents:

“The food was never brought to the school or provided to the students.”

The January 2022 audit revealed how the school district was over budget. Further investigation discovered that the 66-year-old had been committing fraud from July 2020 to February 2022.

According to prosecutors:

“The auditor discovered individual invoices signed by Liddell for massive quantities of chicken wings, an item that was never served to students because they contain bones. The food service provider employees all knew Vera Liddell by name due to the massive amount of chicken wings she would purchase.”

Court documents further mentioned:

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

The 66-year-old is held at the Cook County Jail

Surveillance footage capturing Liddell at Gordon Food Service, the primary food supplier, has been obtained. The Illinois woman was seen picking up orders and leaving in a cargo van that belonged to the school. It has not yet been concluded where the wings were taken.

CBS tried to contact the school district for a comment on the current situation, however, they refused. Authorities are holding Vera Liddell on a bond of $150,000 in Cook County Jail. She further faces charges of felony theft and financial crimes exceeding $1 million.

Vera’s next court appearance is scheduled for February 22, 2023, at the Sixth District Courthouse. It has been reported that the 66-year-old has not entered a plea deal.

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Edited by Adelle Fernandes