Lunch Lady’s Attorney: Former Food Services Director ‘May Have Been Involved in a Fraud’

An attorney for one of the former New Canaan lunch ladies accused of stealing a total of nearly $500,000 in cash from school cafeterias said Monday that he’s “optimistic” regarding his client’s case and also interested to find out what role was played by a man who used to oversee food services for the district. Stamford-based attorney Darnell Crosland told reporters that he has made an official request for discovery, in part to find out whether there’s evidence exonerating his client, Joanne Pascarelli, and also made an inquiry into Bruce Gluck, former head of food services for New Canaan Public Schools. “There is evidence that he may have been involved in a fraud, but it’s outside of the statute of limitations,” Crosland said at Stamford Courthouse after Pascarelli appeared before Judge Gary White. She and her sister, Marie Wilson, were arrested last month by New Canaan Police and charged with first-degree larceny following a monthslong investigation prompted by a complaint from the school district. 

“The idea here is that there’s $500,000 that’s alleged they have taken,” Crosland said. “And there’s an old adage, ‘Follow the money.’ And when you look at these individuals, there’s no cookie crumbs leading us to any money here, at all.

Attorney for Lunch Lady: Schools’ Losses the Result of ‘Systemic Negligence’

The cafeteria at Saxe Middle School had “complicated revenue streams” and income that “went beyond traditional lunch lines,” according to an attorney for one of the women charged last month with felony larceny in connection with what authorities call the theft of nearly $500,000 from New Canaan Public Schools. Snack lines at the school “generated significant amounts of income” and Joanne Pascarelli, though she oversaw the food program at Saxe, “wasn’t in charge of any of those revenue streams,” Stamford-based attorney Darnell Crosland told reporters following her first court appearance Tuesday morning. In researching the case, Crosland said, his firm has learned that the school district had “systemic negligence.”

“The school as a result of its systemic negligence lost money, of which they made a negligence claim to the insurance company and the insurance company to our understanding reimbursed them every dime of that loss,” Crosland said. His comments came minutes after Pascarelli, 61, of Norwalk, appeared before Judge Stephanie McLaughlin in state Superior Court in Norwalk. She and her sister, 67-year-old Marie Wilson of Wilton, formerly the assistant food director at New Canaan High School, were arrested by New Canaan Police on Aug.

Lawyer: Former NCHS Basketball Coach’s Arrest ‘Not a Sale Case’

The New Canaan High School basketball coach arrested March 31 after police found him to be in possession of 20 bags of heroin did not intend to sell the drugs, his lawyer said Monday. Stamford-based attorney Mark Sherman, representing the coach—Jose Amor—said his initial reaction after reviewing evidence was that “this is not a ‘sale’ case.”

“We hope to clear this up at the appropriate time during the court proceeding,” Sherman told NewCanaanite.com. Amor is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in state Superior Court in Stamford. After his arrest, district officials said he no longer was employed by New Canaan Public Schools. New Canaan High School Athletic Director Jay Egan said at first in an email to the school community that “New Canaan Public Schools has an extensive background check for all employees and will continue to use this system for all future hires.”

Yet in a later email, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi called for a “review of every coach in our program” as well as “a comprehensive review of the background checking procedures utilized for all potential employees” of the district.

New Canaan Man, 23, Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ To Charges Following Local Boy’s Drowning at Chelsea Piers

The 23-year-old New Canaan man charged in connection with the nonfatal drowning last month of a local boy at Chelsea Piers in Stamford pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Zachary Stein, wearing a dark suit, light blue shirt and striped tie, stood by silently in state Superior Court in Stamford as his attorney, Stamford-based Mark Sherman, entered the plea before Judge John Blawie in an unusually packed courtroom. A lifeguard at Chelsea Piers at the time of the Aug. 3 incident, Stein faces a felony charge of risk of injury to a minor as well as reckless endangerment. In comments made following the arraignment, Sherman said his client is grateful for the support he has received from fellow lifeguards and first responders.

Police Investigate Untimely Death of New Canaan Man, 46

Police say they are investigating the death of a 46-year-old Father Peter’s Lane man who was pronounced dead early Sunday at Norwalk Hospital. At 5:46 a.m., police received a call that Mitchell Vazquez was unresponsive at his residence, according to Lt. Jason Ferraro of the New Canaan Police Department. No foul play is suspected, Ferraro said. Stamford attorney Mark Sherman, a family spokesman, released the following statement to NewCanaanite.com: “Mitchell Vazquez was an accomplished businessman and pioneer in the global foreign exchange market. He was also a loving father, stepfather and life partner to his fiancée.”