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Leonard Pickell, disgraced former Beard president dies

Leonard F Pickell Jr, ex-president of the James Beard Foundation in New York City, has died aged 53.

Pickell, who died on June 13 at his New Jersey home, was convicted of embezzling over US$1m from the culinary institution.

He was sentenced to one to three years in prison, of which he served just over a year. He was imprisoned in June 2005 and released last August.

From the start of his presidency in 1995, Pickell promoted the culinary center nationwide.

The James Beard town house, in Greenwich Village, had been the home of Beard, a famed chef and cookbook author, who died in 1985. Careers in the American food and wine worlds are advanced by the annual James Beard Awards.

The world’s top wines have long been donated for about 300 dinners a year at the foundation. The meals, prepared by America’s best chefs, function as a showcase for them and a fund-raiser for the foundation.

Under new leadership, the foundation remains deeply in debt but is trying to dig its way out.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York

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