Lunch lady sisters Joanne Pascarelli, 61, and Marie Wilson, 67, have been accused of stealing nearly half a million dollars from the Connecticut school system. While the looting has been linked to the last five years, officials suspect the sisters were stealing for much longer than that.
According to the New York Post, Pascarelli and Wilson were allegedly skimming funds from one of Connecticut’s richest towns before they were caught. The lunch lady sisters have been accused of stealing $478,588 from Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School between 2012 and 2017, according to the police investigating the crime.
The sisters allegedly managed to take off with such a large sum of money over the years thanks to the fact that they ordered staff not to tally each other’s tills each day. Instead, the sisters would do it, and as a result of this, it is reported that they would then “underreport the earnings and pocket the difference,” according to the New York Post.
However, the greedy sisters eventually came undone after it was noticed that some registers showed no earnings over some school days. However, this was apparently not originally discovered until an unrelated accounting issue was being explored.
At the time of the alleged fraud, and during the unrelated accounting dispute, a fellow member who worked with the lunch lady sisters came forward to the New Canaan Board of Education to “accuse Wilson, then the assistant food director at NCHS, and Pascarelli, head of the Saxe Middle School cafeteria, of having sticky fingers,” according to the arrest warrant for Pascarelli. However, this worker has not been identified in the paperwork, according to the New York Post.
Both sisters resigned from their positions in 2017 but have maintained their innocence ever since.
“I never took a dollar,” Wilson said in one of her interviews with police. “I never took anything from anybody.”
Pascarelli also claimed that she would “never take money” as she believed she knew better than that.
However, police didn’t believe the pair and their claims of innocence, and they issued warrants for their arrests. Both siblings surrendered on the weekend, and after being charged with larceny, they were released on bail set at $50,000 each.
Wilson is still maintaining her innocence and her attorney issued the following statement to the New Haven Register.
“There is much more to this story. Marie is innocent and did not personally divert a single nickel of town money for personal gain. She is not going to be scapegoated for the missing money.”
As yet, Pascarelli has not issued a statement on the matter.
It is expected the fraud may go back as far as 15 years. However, as a result of the statute of limitations, police have only charged Joanne Pascarelli and Marie Wilson for the last five years of underreporting.