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NYC School Employee Faked Her Child's Death for Vacation Time

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on January 11, 2012 9:02 AM

A New York mother has been fired from her job at a school after she faked her daughter's death to enjoy an extended spring break.

Joan Barnett, 58, worked as a parent coordinator at a Manhattan high school, and took a spring break trip to Costa Rica in 2010, the New York Daily News reports.

Barnett apparently wanted to extend her break so badly, she forged her daughter's death certificate in order to get time off for bereavement.

Barnett ended up spending 2 1/2 weeks on vacation in Costa Rica. Her forged death certificate, however, did not make the grade.

The death certificate, supposedly issued by the Costa Rican government, claimed Barnett's daughter had died of a heart attack. But a school investigation found the certificate used different fonts that were improperly aligned, the Daily News reports.

Costa Rican officials also told investigators the death certificate's serial number corresponded to a man who'd died in 2005.

When confronted with the forged certificate, Barnett still maintained it was real. Barnett even forged a second death certificate, taking care to use the correct year, according to the Daily News.

Barnett's scam didn't work. Especially after investigators found Barnett had booked her extended trip more than three weeks before spring break -- and way before she faked her daughter's death.

Barnett pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of forgery for faking her daughter's death certificate. Forgery generally requires an intent to commit fraud -- an allegation that Barnett likely couldn't counter.

Barnett also lost her $37,000/year job at the school. Her lawyer declined to comment.

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