Charged New Canaan lunch lady had been accused of wrongdoing before
STRATFORD — The street where Joanne Pascarelli is said to live is a quiet one. Her house is near the end of Delaware Drive, a fairly sleepy dead-end.
So it came as shock to some neighbors to learn that Pascarelli, 61, and her sister, Marie Wilson, 67, of Wilton, turned themselves in to police over the weekend on charges that they stole $478,588 from New Canaan schools’ cafeteria registers from 2012 to 2017. Both women face charges of larceny and defrauding a public community.
The home listed as Pascarelli’s residence in the arrest report is a modest, single-family ranch with an overgrown front lawn. At least one neighbor, who didn’t want her name used, was familiar with the story of Pascarelli’s arrest and was surprised to learn they lived on the same road.
“It’s very quiet,” the woman said Tuesday. “It’s a dead end. Nothing ever happens here.”
According to police documents, the Board of Education received a $500,000 reimbursement from its insurance company, but wished to continue forward with the criminal case against the two women.
The story of Wilson’s and Pascarelli’s arrests has made a splash nationwide, and more information has come to light about the women and their workplaces.
And this was not the first time Wilson attracted unwanted attention on the job.
In February 2014, she was a defendant in a lawsuit that claimed she had assaulted and inflicted emotional distress on another food services employee.
Antonia Torcasio, who filed the complaint, alleged that Wilson and another cafeteria staff member “screamed” at her and was told she would be “transferred out of the school.”
After a year and a half of proceedings, in September 2015, the jury unanimously sided with Wilson and against Torcasio.
Wilson resigned from New Canaan public schools last December. Despite the charges against her, Mark Sherman, attorney for Wilson, said his client is innocent.
“(Wilson) maintains that she didn’t personally profit from any of the missing money,” Sherman said in a call Tuesday. “She served the town for many years without incident.”
Sherman would not comment on the defense of Pascarelli and her lawyer, Mark Carta.
“It’s completely regular practice for even family members to have different lawyers,” Sherman said. “Ethically, lawyers are not permitted to represent two defendants in a case like this even if they’re related.”
Carta has declined to comment on the charges brought against Pascarelli.
Both women are fee, having each posted $50,000 bond. Wilson has a court date of Aug. 21, while Pascarelli is due in court three days later.