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Former Prince George’s school board member sentenced for school-lunch theft

WASHINGTON — A former member of the Prince George’s County school board has been sentenced to probation for using an assistance program for low-income families to get free school lunches for her own child.

Lynette Mundey, 34, was convicted in February on charges that she misused the free school lunch program, intended for families with a combined annual income of $40,000 or less.

When she was indicted, Mundey was making $93,000 annually as an education board member and a federal employee. The lunches were valued at about $1,700.

On Friday, she was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Mundey was, and is, a federal employee of the Government Accountability Office, and it was that agency that discovered that she was one of six GAO employees from the county who had underreported their incomes to qualify for the program for their children.

In court, Mundey’s attorney said Mundey is on paid administrative leave from the GAO and is in the process of being fired. Mundey resigned suddenly from the school board last June; she was indicted in August.

Prosecutor Jeremy Robbins told the court that Mundey used an inactive social service case number to defraud the school system. Outside the courtroom, Mundey said that number had been legitimately assigned to her years earlier.

Mundey maintains that she only made a mistake in leaving the income field on a form blank and did not intend to deceive the government into thinking she had no income. She also claims she has been singled out because of her race, and because she raised tough questions while on the board.

“We treated this case the same way we treat all cases,” said John Erzen, spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. “She broke the law, and she was convicted of breaking the law after a trial and was held accountable.”

In handing down the sentence, Judge Michael Pearson said similar theft cases would not result in jail time. However, he admonished Mundey for an outburst she displayed when the jury verdict came back, calling her behavior “appalling” and “absolutely ridiculous.”

Prosecutors had asked for Mundey to serve three years in prison. Pre-sentencing guidelines called for a sentence ranging from probation to six years in prison. She faced a maximum of 49 years.

Erzen said he hopes this case sends a message to would-be financial criminals: “It’s not worth it, we will hold you accountable, you will end up with a felony conviction,” he said. “That’s something you carry with you for the rest of your life.”

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