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MThe former president of the culinary James Beard Foundation, Leonard Pickell, 50, who resigned from the foundation on September 9, was arraigned on December 13, 2004, on charges of stealing large sums for his personal use. New York Assistant Attorney General Johanna Sullivan said Pickell may have stolen more than $1 million, which would make the crime first-degree grand larceny. The prosecutor said Pickell wrote checks on foundation accounts to cover personal expenses. She said he stole the money by getting reimbursed on bogus receipts or by submitting multiple repayment requests for a single expense. He could face up to 15 years in prison on the second-degree grand larceny charge if convicted. If investigators prove he stole more than $1 million, he would face up to 25 years. The indictment resulted from an investigation that began in July into the finances of the foundation, established in the mid-1980s in memory of James Beard, a chef and cookbook author who founded his own cooking school in New York. "It is clear that the Foundation has been harmed by these actions," said George Sape, Chairman of The James Beard Foundation Board of Trustees and Managing Partner of Epstein, Becker & Green. " Based in New York City, the James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to furthering the practice and appreciation of the culinary arts in America. In addition to presenting The James Beard Foundation Awards, the Foundation grants more than $250,000 in scholarships annually, holds special events at the historic James Beard House in Greenwich Village and around the nation, and maintains an archival culinary library. The entire contents of the audit report will be posted on the Foundation's website

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