A city school employee scammed a week off for a Costa Rica vacation by staging the mother of all hoaxes — convincing her bosses she couldn’t work because her daughter had died.
Joan Barnett, a parent coordinator at the Manhattan High School of Hospitality Management, was so determined to make the spring break jaunt that she:
* Had one of her daughters call the school to say that her sister had suffered a heart attack in Costa Rica.
* Had another daughter call the school later that day to say that the sister had died and that about a dozen relatives, including Barnett, were traveling to the country for a funeral.
* Faxed a forged death certificate of her daughter “Xinia Daley Herman” to school as proof of the death. The document is required if a city school employee asks for bereavement days.
Thanks to the scam, Barnett, 58, was able to spend 21/2 weeks in March 2010 — including her school-sanctioned spring break — in the tropical paradise, city investigators said.
But the fun in the sun didn’t last long.
A school official quickly grew suspicious of the death certificate because it contained “slightly different fonts which were not aligned properly,” according to a report by special schools investigator Richard Condon.
Costa Rican government officials later confirmed to a city investigator that the certificate was a fake, noting the document had identification numbers that actually corresponded to a man and had been issued in 2005.
Costa Rican officials also told the investigator it “does not issue death certificates five years prior to a person’s date of death,” according to court records.
Investigators also were able to determine that Barnett booked the tickets for her vacation more than three weeks before she left — long before she claimed her daughter croaked.
When confronted with the forgery evidence, Barnett insisted the death certificate was real and that her daughter “died of a heart condition,” investigators said.
Barnett even submitted another death certificate — this time with the month and year changed to March 2010, according to court records.
The morbid plot cost Barnett her $37,000-a-year job at the school. She also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor over the forgery in Manhattan Criminal Court this fall, records show.source