At a time when consumers confidence has been repeatedly shaken by an almost continual series of food scares often involving contaminated food, two former Chicago Public Health Department inspectors are facing charges by federal authorities in the United States for allegedly taking bribes for food-service sanitation certificates.
It is reported that hundreds of Chicago employees of restaurant, grocery and food-service establishments have been fraudulently given food-service sanitation certificates without the mandatory training regarding food-borne illnesses and proper food preparation.
David Hoffman, the City Inspector General says the point of a state and city certificate is to protect everyone's health by ensuring that those in charge of handling food, whether in restaurants, schools, hospitals, or other places, have been properly trained.
Hoffman says the former health inspectors because of their fraud schemes have put the public at risk.
The sanitation certificates demand 15 hours of training including lessons on how to prevent food from becoming contaminated, a written test and a processing fee of $35.
Former inspectors Maryanne Koll and Robert Henry are charged with dividing the profits from as many as 600 fake applicant course completions.
Koll is charged with faking the certificates and Henry for referring people to her.
Each fraudulent certificate earned Koll between 300 and 400 dollars and the pair are both also charged with mail fraud.
Prosecutors say the alleged crimes occurred between January 2003 and May 2007, and the pair charged ten times more for doctor attendance rosters and exam results for each bribe-paying customer.
Authorities are now tracing those who did not do the required training and their details will be forwarded to the appropriate state officials.
It is reported that if they are convicted, Koll and Henry could each face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.