Federal Watchdog Employees Indicted For School Lunch Scam

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Five employees at the congressional agency responsible for ferreting out government waste, fraud and abuse face criminal charges for lying about their incomes so their children could receive reduced-price lunches.

The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Office indicted five Government Accountability Office employees and one GAO employee’s spouse Tuesday, claiming the workers illegally understated their earnings to make their kids eligible for reduced-price school lunches, Roll Call reports.

Prince George’s County is in the Washington, D.C. suburbs and home to thousands of federal workers.

GAO employees Barbara Rowley, Jamilah Reid, Tracy Williams, Charlene Savoy and Lynette Mundey all face two counts of welfare fraud, two counts of submitting a false application for public assistance, and one count of a theft scheme. Mundey is also an outgoing member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education. The state’s attorney office also indicted James Pinkney, whose wife is a GAO employee, on similar charges.

Officials estimate the GAO workers bilked taxpayers out of at least $11,000.

GAO’s mission, according to its website, is to “support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people.”

“There is no excuse for stealing funds intended to go to children whose parents cannot afford the school lunches,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said in a news release announcing the indictment. “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.”

The indictment resulted from a 2014 GAO audit of the school lunch program, in which GAO auditors found some of their own colleagues were possibly defrauding the system. The GAO reported their findings to the GAO Office of Inspector General.

“These indictments send a clear message that stealing federal funds intended for the poor, or for anyone else, will simply not be tolerated,” GAO Inspector General Adam Trzeciak said in a statement.

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