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Forging jury summons? Bad idea. Misspelling it? Worse

January 10, 2012 |  4:01 pm

Empty jury box in a courtroom
What does a New York school employee have to do to get a vacation nowadays? A lot, apparently. The same day that one New York City schools worker was accused of having faked her daughter's death to go on vacation, another was charged with forging -- badly -- a jury duty summons to avoid work. 

It was the spelling errors in the false court document that did the Manhattan high school teacher in, according to investigators. They told the Daily News the mangled words included "trial" spelled as "trail" and "manager" spelled "manger." The teacher, Mona Lisa Tello, was arrested Monday and faces three forgery counts. 

Tello denied wrongdoing to local media and told the online news site that she had fallen and needed to take time off last year to recuperate. When the principal of the school refused to accept her injury report, Tello said, she was "forced" to produce a court letter to excuse her absences.

But the principal at the time, Jerod Resnick, tells a different story. He said Tello presented a "summons" full of spelling errors and other mistakes last year, prompting him to alert the school district's special commissioner of investigation, who looks into suspected wrongdoing in the school district. 

The commissioner, Richard Condon, has been busy this week. On Monday, he told the tale of Joan Barnett, a Manhattan schools employee who allegedly claimed her daughter had died suddenly and forged a death certificate so she could take a holiday in Costa Rica. Like Tello, Barnett faces forgery charges. She has been fired, and Condon has recommended the same for Tello.

-- Tina Susman in New York


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Photo: Forged jury summons might be more convincing without the spelling errors. Pictured here is an  empty jury box in Los Angeles. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times