School Employee Fakes Child’s Death for Costa Rican Vacation

A New York City school employee, Joan Barnett, has been found to have forged her daughter's death certificate and convinced one of her other daughters to lie to the school in an attempt to get an extra vacation to Costa Rica.

As well as forging a fake death certificate, Barnett, a parent coordinator at the Manhattan High School of Hospitality Management, was so intent on getting away that she told one of her daughters to lie to the school, telling them that her sister had died of a heart attack, writes Rachel Monahan at the New York Daily News.

"The girl rang the school to tell them that the sister had died and that about a dozen relatives, including Barnett, were traveling to the country for a funeral," writes Monahan.

Barnett then spent two and half weeks in the tropical country.

City investigators say that school officials began to grow suspicious because the death certificate contained "slightly different fonts which were not aligned properly," says special schools investigator Richard Condon.

The Costa Rican government then confirmed that the certificate was a fake. It later transpired that the document contained the identification numbers of a man that showed it had been issued in 2005.

Costa Rican officials advised the investigator, telling him that the country "does not issue death certificates five years prior to a person's date of death."

Investigators then found that Barnett had booked her tickets over three weeks prior to her leaving and the announcement of her daughter's "death".

"Barnett insisted the death certificate was real and that her daughter ‘died of a heart condition,'" investigators said.

Bizarrely, she then submitted another death certificate with the month and year changed to March 2010, according to court records.

Regardless, Barnett lost her $37,000-a-year job at the school after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor over the forgery in Manhattan Criminal Court late last year.

01 16, 2012
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