By David Madden, Cleve Bryan
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — An audit of 15 New Jersey school districts shows systematic fraud in the federally subsidized school lunch program, allegedly by public employees and family members, even elected officials.
In South Jersey, three members of the Pleasantville school board and seven school district employees are on the list of those who allegedly underreported income in order to qualify their children for subsidized lunches.
Problems were also found in Millville, Pennsauken, and Winslow Township.
“We focused on public employees because of their unique knowledge of the requirements of the program and their ability to get around those requirements,” says New Jersey state comptroller Matthew Boxer.
Eighty-three public employees are among the more than 100 people who have been referred to the state attorney general’s office for possible prosecution.
“This is a program that is set up to help the most needy,” notes Boxer, “and when you have people scamming the program like that, we certainly want to make sure that those people are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
That could result in prison time if the accused are convicted of perjury.
Pleasantville officials said they hadn’t seen the report and therefore didn’t want to discuss it.
The program, by law, checks only about three percent of the applications for compliance. Boxer suggests changing that.