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Lunch Lady Sisters Accused Of Stealing $500K From School System

Police believe Joanne Pascarelli and Marie Wilson have been skimming off the top for years at two schools in New Canaan, Connecticut.

By Gina Tron

A pair of Connecticut sisters turned themselves into police over the weekend after being accused of skimming nearly half a million dollars over the past five years while working as cafeteria works in schools across the state.

Joanne Pascarelli, 61, of Stratford, and her older sister, 67-year-old Marie Wilson, of Wilton were arrested and charged with larceny and defrauding a public community for allegedly stealing $478,588 from both Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School from 2012 to 2017, according to a New Canaan Police Department press release obtained by Oxygen.com.

Wilson (pictured, right) worked as an assistant food director at New Canaan High School while Pascarelli ran the food program at Saxe Middle School. Pascarelli was placed on administrative leave in Nov. 2017 and she resigned in December, the Hartford Court reported. Her sister resigned just days after her.

Police began investigating the siblings back in late December when the New Canaan Board of Education filed a complaint with the New Canaan Police Investigative Section about how cash was handled at both school cafeterias, according to police. The board noticed there were financial discrepancies. Investigators monitored both cafeteria operations, examined financial records and interviewed multiple cafeteria workers over the course of several months.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by Oxygen.com, former colleagues of Pascarelli told police that there were four lunch periods and Pascarelli would come to the cash registers and remove the large bills in between each period without telling anyone how much she was taking out.

“At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigation determined that there were two suspects responsible for the thefts,” police said, narrowing down the suspects to Pascarelli and Wilson. Even though the investigation focuses on the five-year span between 2012 and 2017, police believe it is possible that the sisters were skimming money from the school systems for up to 15 years. However, they are only going as far back as 2012 because of the statutes of limitation.

Both sisters have been released after posting a $50,000 bond apiece. Both are due back in court later this month: Wilson is due in court on Aug. 21 while her sister has a court date scheduled for Aug. 24.

Wilson’s attorney claims that Wilson is innocent and that she is “not going to be scapegoated,” the Associated Press reported. It’s not clear if Pascarelli has an attorney.

[Photo: New Canaan Police Department]

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