The Chef Who Saw 'Everything' at Gov. McDonnell's Mansion

Todd Schneider says the former governor's wife Maureen McDonnell would regularly scream at the staff.
7:03 | 09/13/14

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for The Chef Who Saw 'Everything' at Gov. McDonnell's Mansion
Tonight, don't mistreat the help. Confessions from a high-end chef. Worked for a high-powered political couple. But what they were kaucaught doing, and how hot it was in the kitchen. Here's Amy robach. Breaking news from Richmond tonight -- Former governor and his wife were found -- Guilty of most of the charges that they faced. This is an absolutely earth-shattering verdict. Reporter: Virginia governor, bob Mcdonnell, and his wife Maureen found guilty of corruption. The mcdonnells were weeping aloud and gasping. His head in his hands. The conviction carries decades in prison. Reporter: They seemed the perfect pair in the perfect dream house -- the governor's mansion, basking in the allure of the grand chandeliers, regal columns and attentive help ready to answer every whim. But when it came to the mcdonnells, more was never enough. The onetime presidential hopeful's career, toppled off the political pedestal, all traced back to the governor's former chef, Todd Schneider. I stood up for myself. And I feel glad I did. But I lost everything in between. Please raise your right hand. Reporter: Schneider arrived at the mansion shortly after Mcdonnell was sworn in 2010 with great fanfare. So help me, god. Reporter: As Virginia's new first lady, Maureen Mcdonnell -- a former NFL cheerleader -- even brought her pom-poms to the inauguration. Classic political couple, perfect hair, perfect marriage on the rise. Reporter: Schneider was Mrs. Mcdonnell's personal pick for executive chef. So, you did it for the experience? It's a good thing to have on your resume. I don't know about now but then it was a good thing to have on your resume. Reporter: It started out as a four-star experience -- Schneider cooking for some bold-named celebrities. And the cherry on top? A budding personal relationship with the first family. I was part of the family, so I thought. Reporter: But there was trouble brewing from the start. Schneider says Maureen became increasingly unpredictable, overly demanding and became verbally abusive to the staff. What would she say? She would just say anything that came out M herouth. But she really talked down to you. And she would swear at you. Reporter: The governor's poll Numbers and national profile were surging. He gave the gop response to the 2010 state of the union address. Good evening, I'm bob Mcdonnell. Reporter: But inside the mansion, the first lady's popularity rating was crumbling. The maids had to go through a hard time 'cause the sheets were off about an inch on either side. She'd strip the bed and make them come back up and make it again. She was not balanced. So, you had your Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde going through. Reporter: That same unpredictability Schneider says extended into the kitchen. The governor had a habit of throwing last minute dinner parties with custom menus. When the mansion's kitchen didn't have the requested food, Schneider had to rely on supplies from his own catering company. I had to call my restaurant and I had to say, "I need all this food. Bring it down to me." And then, I would give them the food and we were invoicing them. Reporter: It would be an exchange system that would eventually land everyone in hot water. It was a conflict of interest for Todd, a state employee, to be paid as a private vendor. So, he says the director of the mansion came up with an alternate plan. So, they said, "Well, why don't we do this? We'll do a barter system. You can take back what we owe you in food and we'll call it that." Reporter: And how often would you have to borrow from your company? All the time. This governor had parties every day. Reporter: Schneider started noticing one guest in particular showing up with increasing frequency. Johnnie Williams, the sweet talking CEO of a pharmaceutical company called star scientific, which was eager to get state-funded research for their new drug. How did the mcdonnells treat him? He got carte Blanche. He was treated very well. He was there for a reason. Reporter: Williams began lavishing the first couple with gifts, everything from golf clubs and outings, to a $20,000 designer shopping spree in New York City, to a $6,500 Rolex that Maureen then gave to the governor as a birthday present, to paid vacations complete with a loaned ferrari. You'd hear through the grapevine in the house where it was coming from. Reporter: It coincided with a lot of visits? Yes. Reporter: So, there was suspicions that something improper was going on? Yes. And for me, the big deal was the check for the catering. Reporter: Schneider is referring to this now-famous check, a gift for $15,000, used to help pay for the wedding of "First daughter" Caitlin Mcdonnell. The mcdonnells had hired Schneider's company to cater the affair, but when Todd realized the source of the check it was alarm bells, not wedding bells, that started ringing. That's what started it was the check and the $15,000 that we -- they received from Johnnie Williams. For some reason, I don't know why something said, "Copy this check." Reporter: Schneider suspected that investigators might come calling and he was right. In February of 2012, the FBI showed up but their suspect wasn't the governor, it was Schneider himself. They knocked on my door and they started asking me questions. Reporter: Remember that unorthodox bartering system between Todd's catering company and the mansion? The FBI had gotten a tip. You were accused of embezzlement? Yes, of stealing food. And I said, "But we have a -- a barter system. Reporter: Schneider was counting on the governor to explain the arrangement and clear him. But by now, "Washington post" reporter Rosalind Helderman had started writing articles about the cozy relationship between Williams and the first couple. Feeling the heat, the administration chose not to come to Schneider's defense. They should have backed me up. They should have said, the mansion, "Yes, we did have this barter system. Todd did have an agreement that he was allowed to do that." But I think -- I don't think they really knew who or what I had. And I didn't think they'd thought I'd fight so much. Reporter: Staring at four new felony counts and left to twist in the wchd, Sneider fought back, playing the ace he'd kept in his vest -- that $15,000 check from Johnnie Williams. He told them about a bigger fish. It's a classic tale. Todd was really the pebble, the pebble in the pond that started the investigation. Reporter: And as the governor gave his state of the commonwealth speech, little did he know, the state of his own house would soon collapse. Former governor bob Mcdonnell and his wife are facing 14 felony charges. This is day one of the corruption trial against the former first couple. Reporter: The final disgrace, served by a Virginia jury last week, the former governor convicted on 11 counts of corruption. His wife, 9 counts of corruption and obstruction of justice. Collectively, they face a maximum of 400 years behind bars. Thank you all for the way you've handed this. I really appreciate it. I feel redemption because the governor and all the people that work for him threw me under the bus. Does karma come to mind? Yes. And I've been known for saying that. Yes, karma is a bitch and I do believe in it. ?

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"7:03","description":"Todd Schneider says the former governor's wife Maureen McDonnell would regularly scream at the staff.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/2020","id":"25476283","title":"The Chef Who Saw 'Everything' at Gov. McDonnell's Mansion","url":"/2020/video/2020-chef-gov-mcdonnells-mansion-25476283"}