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Cops Say Lunch Ladies Stole A Small Fortune From Their Schools

Pixabay / New Canaan News

It's the kind of shocking turn of events you might expect from a TV detective show, but this true story comes from the small town of New Canaan, Connecticut.

Police have charged a pair of lunch ladies with stealing from their school cafeterias, in a scheme they say has gone on for years.

And police admit they can't even charge the women with all the crimes they're suspected of.

The Cafeteria Cash

Lunch ladies
Saxe Middle SchoolNew Canaan Daily Voice

The sordid story of the missing cafeteria cash began last year, when the New Canaan Board of Education installed a new digital accounting system.

The upgraded system revealed huge discrepancies with the cash flow from two schools, and more digging singled out errors in the cafeteria deposits.

Here's an example from the Saxe Middle School's cafeteria receipts:

Between 2013 and 2016, the average daily deposit from the school's cafeteria was around $18-33.

In 2017, after the new system was introduced, the daily cafeteria haul jumped to $93.

In 2018, the year that cafeteria worker Joanne Pascarelli left halfway through, the average daily deposit was $183.

Police say that between 2013 and 2017, more than $487,000 went missing from the tills at Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School.

But that could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Lunch Lady Larceny

Lunch ladies
Wilson (left) and Pascarelli have both been charged with stealing from their cafeterias.New Canaan News

Pascarelli and Marie Wilson, 67, her sister who worked in the cafeteria at New Canaan High, have been arrested in relation to the missing cash.

They have both been charged with larceny and defrauding a public community.

In statements to the police, cashiers from both schools say the duo kept their coworkers from counting the cash, so they could under-report how much they made and pocket the difference.

Witnesses even remember seeing the women "come to the cash registers and remove the large bills in between each lunch period."

So much cash was taken through the years that some registers in the affected cafeterias showed they had no money at all for an entire 180-day school year.

Police are confident that the sisters are responsible for the theft. In fact, they say the pair could have been running their racket for as long as 15 years.

Because of the statute of limitation, police were advised to only charge the pair for the four most recent years of missing profits.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Lunch ladies
New Canaan High SchoolNoroton - Wikimedia

Both Pascarelli and Wilson resigned from their jobs last December, around the time investigations into the missing cash began.

In an interview with police, Wilson said she "never took a dollar," but also claimed she provided her "boss" at New Canaan High with $100 a day.

"I would never take money," said Pascarelli. "I know better than that."

Wilson's attorney, Mark Sherman, says his client is innocent and will not plead guilty.

"There is much more to this story. Marie is innocent and did not personally divert a single nickel of town money for personal gain," he said.

"She is not going to be scapegoated for the missing money."

Allie Neugeboren, a recent New Canaan High graduate, remembers Wilson as always being "rude or in bad moods."

"I know some kids in the cafeteria are just plain rude so it always made me want to be even more nice to them."

The two suspects are both due in court later this month.

The missing money has been reimbursed to the school board through their insurance policy, but they still want to pursue the criminal case.

Have you ever heard of such an unlikely story?

[H/T: CNN, New Canaan News, Houston Chronicle]

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