If you reflect back to your elementary school days, you’ll remember some pretty standard things that were defining features of primary education. Evacuation drills scheduled randomly, cliques, crowded halls, cafeterias, you know what we’re talking about.
As far as school day mischief is concerned, the cafeteria is where a lot of it is centralized. Usually, it’s the students causing trouble, but in this case, it was the lunch ladies.
Joanne Pascarelli and Marie Wilson, ages 61 and 67, are sisters who worked in the cafeterias at both Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School in Connecticut. They recently left their jobs after arrest warrants were issued for both of them. Charged with first-degree larceny, they’re accused of carrying out an underhanded racket that robbed the two school cafeterias of approximately $478,588 from 2012 to 2017. Talk about getting your lunch money stolen.
Apparently, the arrests had been building up for nine months prior to the cafeteria culmination. The sisters have denied all allegations, Pascarelli claiming “I would never take money, I know better than that.” Still, there was ample enough evidence to build a case over the span of nine months, get arrest warrants, and make the arrests. If they’re found guilty, they could both face up to 20 years in prison. Lunches in prison are probably much less desirable than your least enjoyable cafeteria meal in school.
“We are deeply upset by this alleged violation of our trust and the trust of the entire community, and are committed to continuing our full cooperation with the New Canaan Police Department regarding these allegations,” said the New Canaan Public Schools superintendent, Bryan Luizzi.
The school connected the dots and found some shady cash handling connected to Wilson and Pascarelli. Wilson was the assistant food director at the high school and Pascarelli lead the middle school food program. Both left their jobs after these “irregularities related to the handling of cash” were brought to light.
When this happened, the district paid closer attention and contacted the police. They now believe that the two had been skimming cash from registers and committing thefts for as long as 15 years.
Nearly half a million dollars later, the law caught up with the sister suspects. They were released earlier in August on $50,000 bond and are due in court soon.
Since their departure, the schools have noticed significant increases in daily cash deposits from the cafeteria. Crime only pays temporarily, it seems.