NJ officals caught lying to get free school lunches

Dozens of school district employees, including elected board members, omitted large chunks of their incomes so that their children could qualify.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 18, 2013 5:08PM
Image: School lunch (© Stockbyte/SuperStock/SuperStock)Every time residents of New Jersey think their public officials couldn't possibly be as greedy and corrupt as many suspect, along comes a story such as this: Dozens of school district employees, including six elected board members, lied about their incomes to get free lunches for their kids.

An investigation by State Comptroller Matthew Boxer found that the elected school board members from Newark, Pleasantville and Patterson, along with 40 school district employees, submitted false information on applications for the free lunch program. They all now may face criminal prosecutions.

In one particularly galling case, a board member in Pleasantville, which is near Atlantic City, omitted about $59,000 in household income from her application in each of the three years investigators reviewed. She didn't seem to think she had done anything wrong.

She told investigators that she excluded her own income on the application "because she
herself was not the person receiving the free student lunch," Boxer's office says in a press release.

It gets better.

The board member, who unfortunately is not named, went on to say that her income is none of the school district's "damn business." The state comptroller's office contacted the state's tax division because she apparently didn't think she needed to file her taxes either. The IRS will no doubt want to chat with her as well.
Investigators went after many other public officials who weren't employed by school districts as well. One, a supervisor for an unnamed state agency, said she "forgot" to report $97,500 in earnings from her husband earned as part of her household income. 

And sometimes, even the school districts are to blame. The Patterson School District allowed the children of a school nurse into the program even after she submitted pay stubs proving she didn't qualify. She told state officials that she thought the district "was extending her a courtesy because she is an employee there."

Speaking to reporters, Gov. Chris Christie, who is up for reelection this year, called the practice "absurd and obscene."

What's even sadder is that the lax oversight uncovered in New Jersey is probably not unique.
The program is structured by the federal government so "that the vast majority of free lunch applications are never reviewed for accuracy," according to the comptroller's office.

That's truly frightening.

--Jonathan Berr lives in New Jersey, where men are men and taxes are outrageous. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Jul 18, 2013 5:45PM

I'm willing to bet my firstborn child that if anyone traced where all the federal money goes you would uncover millions of people sucking from the taxpayers tit.


That's why no one in government has any intention of doing any auditing. The fleecing of taxpayers will continue until the tit dries up.


Meanwhile, Congressmen are giving themselves annual raises and more benefits to congratulate themselves on a job well done.

Jul 18, 2013 7:36PM
"The program is structured by the federal government so "that the vast majority of free lunch applications are never reviewed for accuracy," according to the comptroller's office."


Sad to think that half of you idiots still believe more government is the answer.
Jul 19, 2013 8:23AM
we constantly hear about "illegals" draining our resources - yet what about all these "legals" abusing the system, what about all the "legals" who work for cash, who get paid "under the table".  The excuse "because she herself was not the person receiving the free student lunch". How dumb does she think we are? Let's get after everyone not paying their own fair share. 
Jul 19, 2013 8:58AM
Sadly, there is an entire country of liberal democrats who think just like those jerks in NJ.
Jul 19, 2013 11:26AM
It seems that the "47% of the people who just want stuff from the government" includes a few of those middle and upper income folks in the other 53% as well.
Jul 19, 2013 8:57AM
Welcome to New Jersey, the state I want to flee from!
Jul 19, 2013 9:39AM
Imagine that politicians lying! Detroit here we come
Jul 19, 2013 10:29AM
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