Former New Canaan cafeteria workers stole nearly $500,000: Police

NEW CANAAN — Police arrested two women who supervised operations at school cafeterias in connection with the theft of nearly $500,000.

Police said Joanne Pascarelli is facing charges of defrauding the public and first-degree larceny. According to an arrest warrant, she is accused of stealing money from two cafeterias that she and her sister, Marie Wilson, supervised over a five-year period. Wilson was also charged with defrauding the public and first-degree larceny. They were arrested over the weekend.

Pascarelli used to work at the Saxe Middle School cafeteria, and Wilson used to work at the New Canaan High School cafeteria.

In December, investigators met with school officials about thefts they believe had gone back 15 years. A cafeteria worker had complained about the mishandling of money and the worker thought that Pascarelli and Wilson were involved.

According to the warrant, investigators believe the pair had skimmed money from the registers for years and it wasn’t until a new system was put in place that the thefts became apparent. When the new system was in place, the amount of cash taken in during lunch increased significantly without an increase in the numbers of lunches served.

Other cafeteria workers complained to police according to the warrant about intimidation from Pascarelli.

Officials said the total loss starting in 2012 was $137,682 from Saxe Middle School and $350,906 from the high school. The statute of limitations prevents police from looking beyond 2012.

Bail was set at $50,000.