NJ School Board Member Accused of Cheating Free Lunch Program

Juan Donoso and his wife Olga Oviedo-Arevalo, of Elizabeth, N.J., are accused of grossly underestimating income in order to qualify for federal lunch program

By Lauren DiSanto
|  Wednesday, May 1, 2013  |  Updated 11:08 AM EDT
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NJ School Board Member Accused of Cheating Free Lunch Program

NJ Attorney General's Office

Juan Donoso and his wife Olga Oviedo-Arevalo are charged with filing false applications for the free lunch program.

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A school board member and his wife are facing charges, accused of lying to get free lunch for their children through a federally funded program for low-income households.

Olga Oviedo-Arevalo listed her yearly income at $13,000, according to the NJ Attorney General's Office, and did not list any income for her husband, Juan Donoso, who is a financial adviser and serves as a Board of Education member in Elizabeth, N.J.

The A.G.'s office says the couple's household income exceeded $50,000.

For three school years, 2008 through 2011, the couple's son received $1,700 in free lunches.

Authorities say an application for the 2011-2012 school year was filled out by Oviedo-Arevalo for her son and daughter. That application did list some income for Donoso, but not the full amount, according to the A.G's office.

Two lawyers are also facing charges, accusing of covering up the most recent false application.

Investigators say Donoso approached attorneys Kirk Nelson and Frank Capece to say his wife didn't properly fill out their application for 2011-2012 and he wanted to pay for their children's lunches.

According to the A.G.'s office, Donoso approached them after Board of Education President Marie Munn and others in the district were charged with filing false applications for free lunch. He allegedly told the attorneys he didn't want to end up like Munn.

Authorities say Nelson and Capece allegedly pulled the couple's most recent application from the system and switched their children to paid status.

“We have zero tolerance for corrupt insiders who think they play by a different set of rules," said Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice, in a release issued by the N.J. Attorney General's Office.

Donoso and Oviedo-Arevalo are charged with theft by deception, tampering with public records and falsifying or tampering with records.

Capece and Nelson are charged with tampering with public records, falsifying or tampering with records, and hindering apprehension, among other charges.

 


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