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Lunch Lady Charged with Stealing $1.5 Million Worth of Chicken Wings from Illinois School District

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A peculiar case of theft has come to light in an Illinois school district after a lunch lady made off with an impressive amount of poultry.

Officials of Harvey School District 152, situated in a suburb of Chicago, discovered that food service director Vera Liddell had apparently stolen $1.5 million worth of food, with chicken wings being the primary item.

According to WGN-TV, Liddell, 66, had worked for the school district for over 10 years but began her chicken heist during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when kids were out of school.

Court documents reveal that even though students were learning remotely, the district was still providing meals for families to pick up.

Liddell would allegedly order the food from the district’s provider, Gordon Food Service, and pick up the orders in a district van.

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According to KTTV-TV, Liddell made these orders between July 2020 and February 2022 using district funds.

The court records accuse the lunch lady of stealing more than 11,000 cases of chicken wings.

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


The theft was brought to light by the district’s business manager, who found in an audit that the food service department had exceeded its budget by $300,000.

“Upon closer review, 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.

Employees of Gordon Food Service reportedly became quite used to Liddell because of “the massive amount of chicken wings she would purchase.”

Surveillance footage at a Gordon facility allegedly shows the defendant showing up in a cargo van before the facility was even open.

Harvey Superintendent Lela Bridges, who has only been on the job since last week, has not spoken about the case at length due to the ongoing investigation, according to WGN.

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The district’s five schools are located in an impoverished part of Cook County, with 80 percent of the enrolled students classified as coming from low-income households.

Liddell is currently being held at the Cook County Jail with a court date set for Feb. 22.

She is being charged with felony theft and continuing a financial crimes enterprise, according to prosecutors.

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