Two lunch ladies have been accused of stealing almost $500,000 over a period of five years from 2012-2017 according to New Canaan Police. These sisters worked at two different schools within the district, Saxe Middle and New Canaan High School, and had been siphoning off money without the administration’s knowledge.
Schools officials have been puzzled about these lost funds for years, finally leading to a recent months-long police investigation. The culprits, Joanne Pascarelli, 61 and Marie Wilson, 67 turned themselves over after warrants were issued by the police.
The nefarious duo has been charged with larceny and defrauding a public community for stealing a combined $478,588. They were able to get away with it in part due to a lack of point-of-sale system at either school, allowing Wilson to steal money while counting cash at the end of the day and Pascarelli to steal “big bills” from the register.
Other cashiers in both cafeterias told New Canaan police that Wilson and Pascarelli ordered them not to tally each day’s take at the register, leaving it to the sister’s to do the count. This technique allowed them to pocket thousands of dollars each month, slowly earning money. And the scandal may even stretch back further, but they can only be charged for the last five years due to statues of limitations.
Both Wilson and Pascarelli claim that they never stole from the New Canaan school district. “I never took a dollar,” said Wilson in an interview with local police. “I never took anything from anybody.” In a separate sit-down with investigators, Pascarelli said, “I would never take money. I know better than that.”
It may be months before a trial and the prosecutor gets to the bottom of this theft. Community members are deeply upset and school officials want this to be resolved as quickly as possible. New Canaan Superintendent Bryan D. Luizzi stated to community members that, “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.”