A former Prince George’s County school board member was sentenced to three years probation on Friday for fraudulently obtaining free school lunches.
A jury convicted Lynette Mundey of felony theft, welfare fraud and other related charges in February after a federal investigation found she stole more than $1,700 worth of subsidized lunches over about four years. Mundey is among several employees at the U.S. Government Accountability Office who were charged after an agency audit uncovered the fraud.
“We’re disappointed that we had to bring charges against a public official, someone who was in a position of trust in a position of authority,” said John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County state’s attorney office. “But at the end of the day, we treated Ms. Mundey as we would any other person who committed these types of crimes.”
Mundey earned an income of $70,000 to nearly $95,000 but falsely filled out applications to obtain free or reduced-price school meals, prosecutors said. Families typically receive federal school lunch benefits when their reported income, depending on household size, is between $11,600 and $40,000.
A reduced-price lunch costs 40 cents, according to Prince George’s County Public Schools. Full-price lunches cost $2.75 for elementary school students and $3 for middle- and high-school students.
Mundey says she plans to appeal the conviction, claiming that the charges against her were politically motivated. Mundey, who was an appointed member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, said she was being attacked after she started becoming vocal about her concerns with the system.
“They did not like the fact that I became a little more independent than the rubber stamp that they thought I would be,” Mundey said Friday.
Mundey and her attorney argued that she didn’t intend to defraud the government but simply turned in an incomplete form.
Six other GAO workers were charged in 2015, following an agency audit, for obtaining a total of nearly $11,500 in reduced lunches, according to prosecutors.
Despite salaries ranging from $55,000 to $78,000, some of those families underreported their income or reported having no income, county and federal officials said.
Barbara Rowley, Jamilah Reid, Tracy Williams, Charleen Savoy and Terri Pinkney were convicted in connection with the case. Charges against James Pinkney were dropped after his wife, Terri, pleaded guilty to making a false statement on an application for public assistance.
Many who have been convicted have been required to pay restitution or perform community service as part of their sentences. The judge in Mundey’s case ordered her to also perform 100 hours of community service and pay the remaining restitution she has not yet submitted for the theft.
Mundey is currently on paid administrative leave from her federal government job.
“We are following our internal process and that this point no final determinations have been made” about her status as an employee, said Charles Young, a GAO spokesman.