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“Hot” Wing Scam Lands One Chicago School Official in the Coop

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

There is an old saying, “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered”. Apparently chicken wings will get you in prison. Especially if you steal an estimated $1.5 million worth from the Chicago School system. Recently a Chicago School official got busted for a most delicious crime.

Vera Liddell, who worked as the director of food services at Harvey School District 152, was charged with felony continuing financial crimes enterprise and theft exceeding $1,000,000, also a felony, according to a proffer filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Cook County prosecutors have charged the former head of food services at a south suburban school district of engaging in a massive embezzlement scheme in which she allegedly stole more than 11,000 cases of chicken wings and $1.5 million in taxpayer funds over a 19-month period.

Kids, that is a lot of chicken wings. It is unclear as to what Liddell was doing with the wings, but she ran afoul of the law when officials started noticing that the yearly food budget was already maxed out with half of a school year left. That led investigators to pull surveillance footage and interview delivery people for the supplier, Gordon Foods. Gordon probably should have noticed that there were inordinate number of wings being ordered for the school system, but at the end of the day as long as they are getting paid it’s none of their concern. Liddell would pick the wings up in a district cargo van and never deliver them to the school.

In January 2022, the school district’s business manager conducted an audit of departments and discovered the food service department had exceeded its annual budget by $300,000, and the school year was only half over at that point, according to the proffer. The business manager later found invoices signed by Liddell for “massive quantities” of chicken wings, an item that typically wouldn’t be served to students because they contain bones, documents stated.

Another fatal flaw with Liddell’s plan was ordering bone-in wings. Boneless wings aren’t really wings, they are nuggets, and I will die on that hill, so I understand her insistence on flats and drummies. Ultimately as in most cases, greed was Liddell’s undoing. She simply stole too much, and someone noticed. What aided her plot was this took place during Chicago’s Covid closures, and the food was to be taken to the school for parents to pick up, thus not a lot of personnel in the building to notice Vera didn’t show up with the hot wings. Those hot wings have landed Vera Liddell in hot water, instead of hot sauce, and she is looking at a serious prison sentence. I hope they serve nuggets in state prison, not bone in so justice can be served with honey-mustard instead of buffalo.

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