School Lunch Fraud

It’s bad enough that anyone underreports their income to get free or reduced price lunches from the public schools. It’s even worse when it’s relatively well paid federal employees who work for the General Accounting Office (GAO).

But when it’s a GAO employee who’s also an appointed member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, that’s some crazy [stuff] right there.

A Prince George’s County Board of Education member who works for the federal government plus four of her co-workers have been indicted on charges of school lunch fraud uncovered by an audit conducted by their own agency.

The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Government Accountability Office announced the indictments of the five agency employees plus the husband of a GAO employee Tuesday.
They are accused of accepting more than $13,000 worth of reduced lunch benefits for their children although the families did not qualify for the government assistance and have household incomes well above thresholds to qualify for the food assistance.

I’m not going to name the other four people charged, because they’re not public figures. But Lynnette Mundey is a member of the Board of Education, and that’s news. Mundey had apparently already announced her resignation from the Board effective August 24, presumably because she knew the charges were coming.

Rushern Baker, who appointed Mundey to the Board, had a pretty mild reaction to the news.

But the man who appointed Mundey to her post, County Executive Rushern Baker, said that he’s “deeply disappointed” in the GAO staff, whose children attend Prince George’s schools and especially Mundey.

“These allegations of improper use of this critical and much needed federal program are disheartening and concerning,” Baker said.

“Disheartening and concerning” doesn’t begin to approach the appropriate level of outrage here. Let’s see if State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks can do better.

“There is no excuse for stealing funds intended to go to children whose parents cannot afford the school lunches,” Alsobrooks said in a written statement. “Their actions are made even worse by the fact that some of them claimed to have not just low income, but no income at all, even though they were working full-time jobs at the GAO.”

Much better. I could stand a little more outrage, but her office has to handle the prosecution of these cases, so at least a little bit of moderation is called for.


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