Ex-chef at Va. governor’s mansion charged

RICHMOND — The former chef at the Virginia’s governor’s mansion, who tended to official state functions and to the first family’s everyday eating needs, has been charged with felony embezzlement.

Todd Schneider, who left his job at the Executive Mansion a year ago amid a state police investigation, was taken into custody Thursday and released on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond, according to state police.

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He was charged with four counts of embezzling more than $200 in an indictment handed up March 20, according to Richmond Circuit Court records.

“Mr. Schneider continues to fully cooperate and provide information to the authorities, as he has since their first inquiries in February 2012,” said Steve Benjamin, his attorney. “He looks forward to resolving all questions in this matter consistent with the truth about what occurred and why.”

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s office referred questions to state police, who said the investigation is ongoing.

Schneider, 52, now of Sarasota, Fla., was hired with fanfare when McDonnell (R) and his family moved into the mansion in 2010. He trained with Martha Stewart and counted former president Bill Clinton and director Steven Spielberg among his clients, according to his Web site.

Schneider had his own Richmond-based catering firm, Seasonings Fine Catering and Event Planning, which he was said to have turned over to staff when he took the mansion job. He had done past catering work for other Virginia politicians, including former governors Timothy M. Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) as well as U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), according to state and federal campaign records.

Schneider departed the mansion amid an unspecified police inquiry. State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said at the time that that officials were investigating allegations of “improprieties involving the kitchen operations at the governor’s mansion.’’

The investigation began several months earlier, when someone called the state’s hotline for waste, fraud and abuse allegations.

Grand jury charges returned March 20 make no mention of the mansion. They charged Schneider with embezzling “personal property from the Commonwealth of Virginia” during four months: January 2012, December 2011, September 2011 and July 2011. Schneider headed the mansion kitchen during that time.

Schneider was put on paid administrative leave in February 2012 and left his job that March. Officials said at the time that they were prevented from saying whether Schneider, who made $60,000 a year as the mansion’s chef, was fired or left on his own.

 
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