A judge will soon make a ruling about dropping charges against the executive mansion chef accused of embezzlement, which comes just as the governor cut a check to the state.
Governor Bob McDonnell has reimbursed the state nearly $2,400 for food and supplies taken by his children from the Virginia executive mansion kitchen. Most of the items were given to three McDonnell children when they returned to college after weekend or holiday visits.
"Every family sends their children back with some food to tide them over," said Anthony Troy, McDonnell's attorney. "When you're talking about $25 or so in food to tide you over as you go back – I think every family treats their children like that. I think the first family is entitled to treat their children like that."
In a memo accompanying the check, McDonnell says his lawyer has advised him the practice is not prohibited by state guidelines and may have been customary for governors with college-age children.
In Richmond Monday, former executive mansion Chef Todd Schneider asked a judge to dismiss his four-count embezzlement indictment. He's accused of taking food from the mansion for use in his catering business.
Schneider claims he was told by mansion staff to take the food in lieu of payment for various events that went beyond his official duties.
The judge said she will rule by the end of the week.
On the campaign trail in Norfolk, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli defended the way his office handled the embezzlement case. "Every decision made by our office when we had that case was absolutely appropriate," he said.
Also in court, the judge denied a motion by the defense to lift a gag order on the case.
Statement from Governor Bob McDonnell's Director of Communications:
As is typical with children returning to college after spending time at home with their parents, the McDonnell children returned to school after holidays and breaks with basic food and supplies. Recently there have been news reports alleging that some of the supplies and items with which they returned were not reimbursed, or should not have been brought back to school. Upon hearing of those reports, the governor immediately tasked Chief of Staff Martin Kent and outside counsel Tony Troy with researching this matter and presenting him with a list of any items that it could be argued should be reimbursed by the First Family.
Mr. Troy presented the governor with his report last week. Mr. Troy also informed the governor that there is no state prohibition regarding college-age children returning to college with food/supplies from the Executive Mansion, their home. This was the first time the governor had seen this set of expenses and the first time they were ever presented to him for the consideration of reimbursement. In an abundance of caution, the governor immediately reimbursed the full amount, and you will find copies of those checks in the enclosed documents. Governor McDonnell has reimbursed the state for all of the listed items.
The McDonnell boys each brought back an average of $62 worth of items per trip per boy over a three-year period. The McDonnell's daughter returned to school each time with an average of $26 per trip over a two-year period.
The governor has always paid all reimbursements presented to him in a prompt manner. There is a longstanding, regular reimbursement process at the Executive Mansion. It is the exact same reimbursement process that has been in place at the Executive Mansion for multiple administrations. First Families are presented, on a regular schedule, with a list of items that need to be reimbursed for at that time, and those payments are made. This administration has adhered to that exact same process. When the governor receives a request for reimbursement he pays it. In this instance, the governor reimbursed for these items despite the advice of counsel which stated that reimbursement was not required.