In Connecticut Town, an Alleged Lunch-Lady Scheme

Sisters accused of stealing nearly $500K
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2018 9:45 AM CDT
In Connecticut Town, an Alleged Lunch-Lady Scheme
These photos released Monday by the New Canaan Police Department show Joanne Pascarelli, left, of Stratford, Conn., and her sister, Marie Wilson, of Wilton, Conn., former cafeteria workers charged with stealing nearly $500,000 from New Canaan, Conn., schools.   (New Canaan Police Department via AP)

Marie Wilson says "the only thing she is guilty of is feeding a child who had no money or giving somebody a cookie." New Canaan officials say otherwise—about Wilson and her sister, Joanne Pascarelli. The two women have been charged with larceny after allegedly stealing $478,588 in lunch money from the school cafeterias they worked at in the tony Connecticut town, reports the AP. The theft allegedly took place between 2012 and 2017, though police say the scheme may have been ongoing over a 15-year period. The New York Times has a statement from New Canaan Public Schools explaining the district didn't pick up on the "relatively small ... discrepancies until it instituted new financial controls specifically related to the collection and depositing of cash in the cafeterias."

Wilson and Pascarelli, ages 67 and 61, respectively, surrendered over the weekend, though both deny the charges against them. Police allege Wilson personally handled the daily counting of cafeteria cash at New Canaan High School; cafeteria workers say Pascarelli did the same at Saxe Middle School and allege she also took large bills from the register. The Hartford Courant cites additional details from the arrest warrants: The women would allegedly have cashiers sign blank bank deposit slips, and a co-worker says Pascarelli put her on dishwashing duty for months after she raised some financial questions. The women resigned in December, and police say the middle school's daily cash intake immediately rose from below $40 to about $150. (This lunch lady quit after she said her school made her shame poor kids.)

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