A court document says a former New York Department of Education executive — who went by Secret aka Roger Rabbit — abused his position by accepting bribes in exchange for lucrative food supply contracts.
Eric Goldstein, who manages the department’s school food budget, is accused of accepting payments from a company while public schools were exposed for selling chicken tenders containing bones, metal and plastic.
He accepted “thousands of dollars in bribes” from Blaine Ilar, Michael Turley and Brian Tomei, believed to be about $80,000 in bribes in exchange for awarding food contracts to New York schools demanded by his food service company.
Prosecutors say $7,000 of that cash went to a divorce attorney, and $3,000 was transferred to one of Goldstein’s friends.
All four men were charged today with conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of official authority and soliciting and paying bribes related to programs that receive federal funds.
Iler, Turley, and Twomey secretly referred to Goldstein—who oversaw Schoolfood’s budget and management—in correspondence to shield his true identity as Roger Rabbit, court documents revealed.
An unsealed court on Monday did not name the company from which Goldstein allegedly took the bribe, but Tomei, the founder and managing director of Soma Food Group, where Aller is listed as chief operating officer. . Is.
Eric Goldstein, a former New York Department of Education executive, allegedly accepted a bribe
Soma’s chicken tenders were pulled onto a New York City public school lunch menu in 2016 after bones and blue plastic were found inside.
The education department ordered the tenders already in the school cafeteria to be destroyed after receiving seven complaints, but after sending them to a facility where they were X-rayed, they were reportedly cleared for use. was given. was given and displeasure was expressed in schools.
The following year, a student found a metal piece in a chicken piece supplied by Soma.
Goldstein was fired by the state’s DOE chancellor in 2018 after receiving complaints of poor performance. The DOE is located in the State Education Building (pictured above)
Around the same time Soma was founded in 2015, Goldstein, Ilar, Turley, Tomei and another individual formed Range Meat Supply Company LLC, which bought beef from international suppliers and sold it to schools and other retailers.
Prosecutors say Goldstein owned a 20 percent stake in the company, but used clever accounting practices to cover up his involvement.
When Schoolfood temporarily stopped serving Soma’s Chicken Tenders after a school employee died of a bone in October 2016, Goldstein had final approval as to whether he would be allowed back to schools .
Prosecutors said they delayed his reintroduction until his co-conspirators transferred Soma’s ownership stake in Range Meet to him. They also instructed him to transfer $66,670 to a Range Meets bank account that he owned and controlled.
In November, Goldstein approved the re-introduction of Soma’s Chicken Strips in New York schools.
Blaine Ilar (left) and Brian Tomei (right) were charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and soliciting and paying bribes related to programs that receive federal funds.
Prosecutors said Goldstein used his position with Schoolfood in other instances to ensure he would acquire food promoted and sold by Soma.
In return, SOMA executives transferred ‘tens of thousands of dollars’ to Range Meat for Goldstein’s benefit.
Prosecutors said Goldstein’s personal divorce attorney was given a $7,000 bribe, while his close relative was given a $3,000 bribe.
An FBI document (pictured above) shows how a co-conspirator called Goldstein ‘Roger Rabbit’
The FBI assistant director said, “As alleged, Goldstein used his position within the DOE to help promote a business in which he had a financial interest, which is not only illegal, but also competitive.” interests as well.” The in-charge also does not allow for a proper bidding process between Michael Driscoll.
‘As a result of this plan, Goldstein – and his conspirators – learned a lesson of their own today about what not to do with taxpayer money.’
Goldstein was fired by the chancellor of the state’s Department of Education in 2018 after receiving repeated complaints of poor performance.