A former Queens school secretary was busted for spending thousands of taxpayers' dollars on herself and her family, after her granddaughter ratted her out to Department of Education officials. According to investigators, the granddaughter tipped off officials after her grandmother had stopped paying her cell phone bill. Lesson: Do not mess with 14-year-old girls and their cell phone bills.
Since 2003, Debbie Rizzo made unauthorized Amazon.com purchases on the account for Middle College High School at LaGuardia Community College where she worked. Many of her (largely) mundane purchases are detailed in the Daily News, including seven ceiling fans, a pink iPod docking station, a men's merino wool sweater, a wicker hamper, five "Webkinz" toys, a Dell computer, flowers, car service trips and a washer and dryer. According to the News, she spent more than $6,200, while the Post puts the amount at closer to $10,000.
Rizzo claimed to investigators that "99.5%" of her Amazon purchases were for the school, and excused her personal shopping spree as "accidental" and "a mistake in judgment," according to the report from Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon. Her daughter, Nicole Rizzo, says school officials forced Rizzo's granddaughter to finger her grandma: "The school harassed her until she gave them this story. She's young. They took advantage of her. She was scared." But the granddaughter told investigators that her grandmother was a "compulsive liar" whom she no longer spoke with, at least partially because she stopped paying her cell phone bill for five months.