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Cuccinelli wants to recuse office from mansion chef case

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli announced plans to recuse his office from the case against Todd Schneider, the former head chef at the Virginia Executive Mansion.

Schneider, who also owns a private catering company called Great Seasons, is charged with taking state property while he worked at the mansion. He is scheduled to go on trial in July.

This week Schneider's defense team filed a motion in circuit court for the state to turn over information deemed important to the case. The defense team wanted information like whether Schneider or his catering company employees were ever told to take food or supplies from the Executive Mansion instead of receiving payment for their work.

Defense lawyers also asked for information as to whether the Governor's wife and children ever took food from the mansion to use at college or for private parties.

[WEB EXTRA: GOLDMAN: Food fight gets messy as ex-chef ‘threatens’ Governor McDonnell]

"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,"  Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein wrote in a statement. "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 would take over the case once a judge approves the appointment.

Earlier this month, information came to light that a $15,000 gift from a political donor was used to help pay for the wedding of Governor McDonnell's daughter.

McDonnell said he did not publicly disclose the gift because the money went to his daughter and not to him. But according to a report in the Washington Post catering receipts for the wedding indicate the governor signed for and put $8,000 down as a deposit for reception.

Governor McDonnell has been overseas since April 10 on a “job creation and economic development marketing mission.” He is due back in Virginia on April 26.