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Supervisor approval part of food director's criminal defense

A health food advocate faces charges of embezzlement and mishandling of funds after allegations that he used school money to line his own pockets. He claims that he did not misuse the funds, and that the allocation of the money was approved by his supervisors on the school food services team. The man, previously lauded as a champion of healthy food in California schools, is now preparing his criminal defense. 

The man was appointed to the school food services commission as part of his efforts to bring low-fat, healthy lunches to school children. He was able to successfully negotiate contracts with major food corporations to bring more vegetarian and healthy food choices. He was applauded for his work and received media acclaim, even giving TED talks about his mission.

Despite rumblings as far back as 2011 about potential mishandling of funds, he was eventually appointed as the director of food services. While in his position as director, the man allegedly did not disclose his ownership of a food consulting firm that was paid by the school food services board. He is also charged with forging an application to become an outside vendor for the school program. 

The man had denied any wrongdoing. Part of his criminal defense includes the claim that his actions were approved by his supervisor as well as the ethics office. He also claims that he did not engage in a conflict of interest because his consulting firm did not take any funds from the county in which he was employed in the last year. Others, like this man, do not have to face criminal charges alone. In California, a defense attorney can assist with defending an individual against criminal charges and allegations. 

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Food guru who brought healthier meals to L.A. schools charged with mishandling district funds", James Queally, Aug. 8, 2017

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