The holidays are usually a time to spread good will and bring cheer to those less fortunate. However, one Queens, New York teacher took that message just a little too far.
Fifth grade teacher Melissa Dean asked her students at Public School 143 in Corona to draw Christmas cards for “people without families who were lonely during the holidays.” because she “thought it was a nice thing to do.”
It turns out those people were really just one man in jail. He was also the teacher’s boyfriend and a convicted felon and possible pedophile.
The NY Daily News reports that the school was alerted to the cards from the children after a guard at Groveland Correctional Facility in Livingston intercepted a package with 27 letters for John Coccarelli, a convicted criminal.
The guard immediately called the school to tell the principal. In 2008, Coccarelli was arrested for weapons possession and child porn. Police recovered a disk and laptop with close to 50 sexually explicit images of children. He was also convicted for a felony weapons charge and for violating an order of protection.
As part of a plea deal in exchange for a longer conviction, the porn charge was eventually dropped. He is eligible for release in May. Most disturbingly, some of the handmade crayon drawn cards by the children also contained the students’ names and addresses. Dean also wrote one herself and signed it “from your Wifey Melissa.”
The teacher has been placed on desk duty (still collecting her $75K salary) but the Education Department and City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott say they are actively seeking her termination.