Judge to Rule on Charges Against Former Chef

Jul 9, 2013

Chef Todd Scheider/File

The judge presiding over the case of a former Executive Mansion chef accused of embezzlement says that she will make a decision by the end of the week on whether to dismiss the charges. 

Richmond Circuit Court Judge Margaret Spencer also heard oral arguments by defense attorney Steven Benjamin--who asked for dismissal of the charges against Todd Schneider--and the special prosecutor, Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney Gregory Underwood, who argued against dropping the charges.

Benjamin argued that charges should be dropped because the Attorney General’s office had a conflict in the indictment process—once the former Mansion chef told it of the alleged misuse of public resources by Governor McDonnell’s family and administration.  He explained that the office’s conflict was because its job was BOTH to defend its administration clients while also prosecuting and defending the taxpayers’ interests.  Underwood countered that he had seen the evidence and the grand jury’s report for himself—and maintained that he is impartial and believes a trial IS warranted. Benjamin later said he could not elaborate due to the court’s continued gag order.
“And so all I can say at this point is that the court heard our motion to dismiss the indictment today.  She has taken the motion under advisement and is expected to rule by the end of the week. If she denies the motion to dismiss, then we will go to trial as scheduled in October. And you understand, we look forward to going to trial if that is necessary.”

The Governor’s lawyer, former Attorney General Anthony Troy, did not participate.  He told reporters afterward that there was no misuse of the chef’s labor as a state employee because it was all in his job description.
“The job is beyond feeding just the first family. It’s providing meals for all events that are held at the Mansion. That’s the job description of the chef.  He’s an at-will, 24-7 employee, and he’s there to provide food service in the Mansion for all events held at the Mansion.  That was part of his job when he accepted it.”

In court documents, the former Mansion chef maintains that he was instructed to take food for compensation for the additional events.  Troy also said he had accounted for the food given to the McDonnell children as they headed back to college, and it was worth around $75.