People will use all kinds of excuses to get out of jury duty. But it's rare the employee who uses the pretense of having to sit on a jury just to get a little time off from work.
But that's exactly what Mona Lisa Tello is accused of doing, officials in New York City revealed Tuesday. The 61-year-old Manhattan high school teacher allegedly faked a jury duty letter that permitted her to get off from work for five days in 2010 and 10 days last year, the New York Daily News reports.
Tello's plan unraveled after a review of the document showed it to be rife with misspellings, such as "trail" for "trial" and "manger" instead of "manager." She also allegedly put the wrong address on the letter, among other errors, the newspaper quoted officials as saying.
Tello, who earns about $58,000 a year, has agreed to retire by week's end and reimburse the city nearly $3,400 in salary that she drew while skipping school.
But as the News notes, her woes aren't over. Tello has been charged with three forgery counts by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Prosecutors said that Tello claimed jury duty as an excuse for 15 absences between September 2010 and May.
When a reporter reached her by phone, Tello said only, "I have nothing to say."
Though Tello's case may seem extreme, it might pale in comparison to that of Joan Barnett, who has admitted to forging her daughter's death certificate to get bereavement leave so that she could take a two-week vacation to Costa Rica in Spring 2010.
It was reported this week that Barnett, who earned about $37,000 a year as a parent coordinator at a Manhattan high school, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor forgery charge after confessing the ruse to school investigators.
The school's principal became suspicious after Barnett presented the clearly doctored document, which had mismatched fonts.
The special investigator for the school district, Richard Condon, was called in. Upon reviewing the faked death certificate, Condon found that the name on the death certificate "didn't seem to relate to Barnett," he told WABC-TV.
Also, airline records showed the flight to Costa Rica was booked in advance of March 20, 2010, the date noted on Barnett's daughter's death certificate. So, Condon said, "it was obvious she was going to Costa Rica for vacation."
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