The person whom The Los Angeles Times describes as “a pioneer among school nutrition advocates for accomplishing a near-herculean task,” and one of the figures in Michelle Obama’s key proponents of her healthy lunch program, was indicted last week on charges of fraud.
David Binkle, 55, one of the stars of Michelle Obama’s lunch program, appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to 15 felony counts, including embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, according to The Los Angeles Times. He posted his $220,000 bail, and is scheduled to return to court in October.
In 2014 Michelle Obama invited David Binkle to the White House after his initiatives in the L.A. School District led to vegetarian curries, pad Thai noodles and quinoa salads that replaced cafeteria staples such as chicken nuggets, pizza and corn dogs. Obama praised his efforts as she pushed to combat childhood obesity. Binkle even appeared on Tedx Talks.
But even as Binkle was garnering awards for his district and praise from the highest echelons of society, he was illegally funneling $65,000 from the school district that employed him.
The L.A. School District responded with a statement: “While recognizing that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, the charges against Mr. Binkle are extremely upsetting as they do not reflect the professionalism, ethics and character we expect of all L.A. Unified employees.”
Between 2010 and 2014, Binkle repeatedly misappropriated district funds ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 amounts, according to The L.A. Times. The prosecution asserts that Binkle also illegally forged an application that made him a vendor with the district, then failed to disclose outside financial interests. If convicted, Binkle faces up to 13 years in prison.
During his tenure, his reputation for the initiatives he espoused were stellar, garnering broad support from the L.A. Unified School District and Washington D.C. In an effort to reduce or eliminate traditional fatty foods, he organized a way to bring fresh food from local farms to the lunchroom—no easy feat, considering that 700,000 meals are served daily in the district, one of the country’s largest.
At a concert recently, Malia Obama was caught on camera twerking, and had to be escorted out of a rock concert because she was out of control. Join the conversation on our Facebook page.