SURPRISE: Another Obama Crony EMBROILED in Fraud
Michelle Obama turned lunch time at schools into a vomit-fest. But the food wasn’t the only thing that didn’t smell right.
When the Obama’s left office, school children around the country cheered. Finally, the food Nazis were gone. However, one of Obama’s superstars of nutritional torture basked in the limelight of her nutrition plan.
David Binkle was called a pioneer in school cafeterias. He was able to use meats and produce from local farms to create more nutritious meals for students. He cut the fat in the country’s second largest school district. Therefore, all eyes were on Binkle. He was the example everyone needed. Until he stuck his hands in the cookie jar.
As the LA Times reported:
The Los Angeles Unified School District serves nearly 700,000 meals per day, and the professional chef helped lead a charge that saw vegetarian curries, pad Thai noodles and quinoa salads replace old cafeteria staples like chicken nuggets and corn dogs.
The initiatives won the district numerous awards, drew praise from then-First Lady Michelle Obama as she led a national push to combat childhood obesity, and earned Binkle appearances on Tedx Talks.
But as he was revolutionizing meals for the district’s students, prosecutors allege, Binkle illegally funneled roughly $65,000 of the district’s money into a private consulting firm he ran, then placed some of that money into his own pocket.
The 55-year-old appeared in court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to 15 felony counts including embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. He posted $220,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court in October.
A Page from Obama’s Playbook
Binkle might’ve been a great chef, but he was pocketing the cash all along.
According to court documents, Binkle repeatedly misappropriated district funds in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 between 2010 and 2014. Prosecutors also allege that he forged an application to become a vendor with the district and failed to disclose outside financial interests.
Drip drip. With a budget the size of LA schools, Binkle methodically embezzled funds. I’m sure he felt that by limiting his larceny to relatively small amounts, he would be able to continue his theft indefinitely.
Thus, while people were busy praising the lower sodium content in his food, Binkle took advantage of the situation. Thus, he took it upon himself to negotiate contracts with food-providers. And these contracts seemed to leave the district upside down in food sales.
Ironically, the one person who noticed the numbers weren’t adding up eventually was let go. As the LA Times reported,
Binkle dramatically altered the way the district procured ingredients, opting for years-long contracts with providers that included Tyson Foods Inc., Jennie-O Turkey Store Sales, Goldstar Foods, Five Star Gourmet Foods, Driftwood Dairy and Don Lee Farms. Five of the vendors also agreed to contribute approximately $500,000 annually to a marketing program that promoted healthy eating in the district’s schools.
But problems began to arise. George Beck, a former food-services deputy branch director responsible for accounting and budgets, previously told The Times he began questioning Binkle’s management of the marketing program as early as 2011.
The district took no corrective action however, according to Beck, who says he was laid off in retaliation two years later.
And as with all things Leftists, by 2012, Binkle was promoted to Director of Food Services. He handled a program with a budget in the hundred millions of dollars.
Oddly, no one oversaw his budget. Thus, Binkle slowly began to milk the system. And eventually his criminal activities began to unravel.
In November 2014, a scathing report from the district’s Office of the Inspector General accused him of failing to disclose his ownership of an outside culinary consulting firm or report payments from vendors to attend school nutrition conferences.
His firm, California Culinary Consulting, presented “at minimum an appearance of a conflict of interest,” the audit said. And the marketing program was “being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused” by Binkle, according to the audit.
A month later, the district placed Binkle on unpaid leave. At the time, he was making an annual salary of $152,000.
It took long enough for the district to act.
In his defense, $152,000 in California isn’t what it is in the rest of the country. And I believe $152,000 is the going rate for illegals receiving entitlements in the state. So why shouldn’t Binkle get a little extra?
Sadly, Binkle’s theft is not isolated. In fact, the amount of money he took is small in comparison to the theft that occurs in other districts.
Check out this case.
In August 2015, police accused Cathleen Spring, the former treasurer of Bak Middle School of the Arts, of stealing $66,000 from her school. But after mulling the case for a year, prosecutors declined to press charges. She resigned and walked away a free woman.
Less than a year later, police accused Terri Miller, the former treasurer of Palm Beach Gardens High School, of stealing $7,200 from her school. This time prosecutors decided to charge, and Miller ended up in jail.
And what of this former school board member, Brandon Lewis in Louisiana. As KSLA reports:
The Caddo Parish School Board has issued a statement thanking the anonymous tipster who alerted police to the possible theft of funds from the district by a former school board employee.
Brandon Lewis, 32, is accused of misappropriating at least $260,000 in public funds.
So in the scheme of things, Binkle isn’t the biggest fish in the ocean of fraud of the Left. Unfortunately, he does represent the norm.