Schoolhouse Beat

School lunch fraud uncovered in 15 new Jersey districts

An investigation by the New Jersey Comptroller has found widespread fraud in 15 school districts in connection with the federal free lunch program. The comptroller's office announced that it has referred the named of 109 people to the division of criminal justice for prosecution for allegedly submitting false information about their income on applications for free or reduced-price meals.

“Dozens of public employees appear to have lied about their income in order to take advantage of a school program designed to help families in need,” State Comptroller Matthew Boxer says in a news release.

Of the 109 referrals, 83 are public employees and 26 are family members of a public employee. forty of the referrals are school district employees, and six are elected school board members.

Total underreported income in the 109 cases exceeded $13 million over the three-year period  reviewed. The investigation began after the Elizabeth school board president and others affiliated with the Elizabeth school district were arrested on charges of filing fraudulent free lunch applications

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