New Canaan lunch ladies accused of stealing from registers appear in court

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Two former New Canaan lunch ladies accused of stealing nearly $500,000 from cafeteria registers made their first appearance in court Tuesday.

Sisters Joanne Pascarelli and Marie Wilson are charged with larceny and defrauding a public community.

Police say the sisters stole about $480,000 from 2012 to 2017, but that it's possible the scam was going on for up to 15 years.

Pascarelli's attorney entered a not guilty plea on her behalf, while Wilson's attorney said he will be doing the same at the next court hearing.

Wilson worked in the cafeteria at New Canaan High School and Pascarelli worked in the Saxe Middle School lunch room. The school district says no one noticed the missing money until a new register system was put in place, leading to a monthslong investigation.

Both women were placed on administrative leave in late 2017 and resigned in December.

Several people who worked with Pascarelli and Wilson told police they saw the women go to the cash registers and remove large bills in between lunch periods at their schools.

Wilson told police she gave money to her boss but that she never personally took a dollar.

Court documents also show a discrepancy in average daily deposits made at Saxe Middle School in the time before and after Pascarelli left. Both women's attorneys deny the charges, with one of them calling the situation a witch hunt.

"All they did was come to work every day, work hard and now the state has thrown a bunch of stuff against the wall hoping something sticks," says Darnell Crosland, Pascarelli's attorney.

The two women are due back in court in Stamford on Sept. 10.

Court documents show the New Canaan Board of Education did get reimbursed $500,000 from their insurance company, but still wished to move ahead with the criminal case.

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