AP Political Writer
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is withdrawing his office from prosecuting embezzlement charges against the former chef at the Virginia's governor's mansion.
Todd Schneider, who headed kitchen operations at the Executive Mansion from 2010 until last year, was charged with four counts of taking state property worth $200 or more.
Spokesman Brian Gottstein told The Associated Press Wednesday that Cuccinelli decided to recuse his office after Schneider's attorneys filed motions seeking information about items the governor's family may have taken from the kitchen. Gottstein said it's clear that Schneider's defense team is trying to politicize the case.
"When the details of the defense's discovery motion emerged yesterday, it was very evident that defense counsel was looking to reach beyond the embezzlement charges and instead politicize this case," Gottstein said.
"The attorney general feels it is in the best interest of justice and getting this case resolved without any appearance of impropriety to recuse his office from it."
Gottstein said Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert will serve as a special prosecutor.
The defense motion, filed in Richmond Circuit Court by Richmond lawyers Steven Benjamin and Betty Layne DesPortes, demands information about whether Gov. Bob McDonnell's family may have taken provisions from the mansion's kitchen, along with any evidence that the defendant may have been directed to take food from the mansion as payment for his services.
A State Police investigation of operations at the mansion continues.