Outside counsel appointed in chef case; $250 an hour

Posted at 5:30 PM, May 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-16 07:20:15-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Governor Bob McDonnell has been appointed outside counsel after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recused himself from the felony embezzlement case of former Executive Mansion chef Todd Schneider.

Anthony Troy, former Attorney General of Virginia for one year starting in 1977, will serve as special counsel for the governor, based on a letter obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch under the Freedom of Information Act.

The appointment was made April 26. According to the document, services will be provided by Troy at an hourly rate of $250, which will be paid by the state. Had Cuccinelli not been recused from the case, he would have represented the governor as part of his commonwealth duties.

Schneider faces grand larceny charges for pilfering food and supplies from the kitchen at the Executive Mansion. Grand larceny charges start at $200, but the total amount has not been disclosed. Schneider was let go of his position in 2011.

His trial will begin in October.

Once the case against Schneider moved forward, Governor McDonnell and his family’s relationship with donor and Henrico-based Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams came under scrutiny because of a wedding gift from Williams.

McDonnell has acknowledged receiving gifts from Williams, including a $15,000 check to his daughter to help pay for food at her June 2011 wedding. The check went to Schneider's company, Seasonings Fine Catering.

The Washington Post first reported the governor’s signature was on that catering contract, along with handwritten notes, even though the Governor said the money was gift to his daughter. The Post also reported, due to an over payment  a $3,500 refund check from the caterer was paid to First Lady Maureen McDonnell and not the newlyweds.

Schneider’s lawyers has asked the charges be dropped and said that Virginia General Attorney, and gubernatorial candidate, Cuccinelli took on the case well aware of his own ties to Williams, which presented a conflict of interest.

A Circuit Court judge ruled May 2 that Cuccinelli could be recused from the embezzlement case.

A ruling on the chef’s defense motion to drop the charges will be heard July 8.

Schneider claims the food he took was part of a deal he worked out with the governor in which he would take food in lieu of payment.

In the motions, Schneider’s lawyers asked for documentation for times when the chef was not paid for his work and for times when members of McDonnell’s family took food and supplies from the kitchen.

[CLICK HERE to read the motions]

“It’s directly relevant to try to get all this information showing a common practice within the Governor’s Mansion that their food items were given in exchange for services and all these other exchanges that the defense is saying occurred at the Governor’s Mansion,” CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said.

The Office for Attorney General earlier released a statement calling the motions an attempt to politicize the case. A judge has issued a gag order as Schneider's case moves through pre-trial hearings.