CHICAGO The U.S. attorney’s office here said it was providing state health officials with the names of several hundred food handlers who allegedly bought food-safety sanitation certificates from two former health department inspectors.
The office said it has charged the two with selling the certifications for $300 to $400 per person. One of the defendants, Robert Henry, would steer restaurant, grocery and on-site kitchen workers to his co-defendant, Maryanne Koll, a retired inspector who ran the Kollmar Food Safety Institute from her home in Burr Ridge, Ill., according to the officials. Koll would secure and pass along the certification without providing the training, and she and Henry would split the money, the indictments allege.
The authorities said in a statement that about 584 state food sanitation certificates were fraudulently issued through Koll between January 2003 and May 2007. Officials allege that Koll often completed or changed test forms to ensure that the food handlers qualified for the certificates.
City Inspector General David Hoffman told the Chicago Tribune that he believed most of the people who bought the certificates work in Chicago.
The city of Chicago issues its own safety certificates to persons holding a state permit, provided they pay an additional fee.
All public foodservice establishment in Illinois must have at least one person who holds a sanitation certificate on premise during operation.
Koll, 64, and Henry, 64, were each charged with one count of mail fraud. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $250,000.
The case is being prosecuted in U.S. District Court here.
The attorney’s office did not say what action, if any, state health officials may take against the individuals who secured their food-safety certificates by paying Koll and Henry.