NEW CANAAN — They never crossed paths, but two sisters who are accused of bilking $500,000 from a public school cafeteria system both wore black sunglasses to court Tuesday.
Marie Wilson and Joanne Pascarelli, former cafeteria workers in New Canaan Public Schools, arrived separately at state Superior Court in Norwalk in their first court appearance since being arrested for a scam police say could go back as far as 15 years.
Though both of their attorneys say they will plead not guilty, no pleas were made Tuesday and the case was transferred to Superior Court in Stamford.
Wilson, 67, was the first to show up, entering the courthouse at 9:45 a.m. with her attorney, Mark Sherman. Wilson did not speak to anyone but her lawyer, remaining largely stoic before and throughout the proceeding.
“The case was transferred, which is typical for things like this,” Sherman said after Judge Stephanie McLaughlin approved the case’s move to Stamford for Monday. “We plan to enter a not-guilty plea at the appropriate time.”
When asked about Wilson, Sherman said she was “hanging in there.”
In mid-August, police issued warrants for the sisters’ arrests, charging them with larceny and defrauding a public community for allegedly stealing $478,588 from 2012 to 2017.
Pascarelli, 61, dressed in a black blouse and black pants, entered Courtroom C around 10:45 a.m. and was told by an officer to remove her sunglasses. She sat in the front, left corner of the room, along with her attorney, Darnell Crosland.
Crosland also plans to file a not guilty plea for his client and is considering applying to the Accelerated Rehabilitation program.
Crosland said Pascarelli had “zero control of any of the revenue” and the “school’s loss was a result of systemic negligence.”
“Pascarelli gave 30 years of her life to the schools and never missed a day,” Crosland said. “This is a negligence case and we want the charges dropped, dismissed.
“Obviously, she’s at the peak of her life and this is not what she expects at this point of her life.”
Wilson and Pascarelli did not issue any comment.
In the arrest warrant issued in August, police say that the scam could have been ongoing for 15 or more years but were advised to limit the investigation to five years due to statutes of limitations.
The investigation began in December when the Board of Education filed a complaint with police regarding “financial discrepancies” in the handling of cash at Saxe Middle and New Canaan High School cafeterias.
Both cases will proceed at the Stamford Superior Court on Monday.