A Brooklyn Couple Was Arrested for Scamming Immigrants with Bogus English Language Instruction


A Brooklyn couple was arrested in Syracuse on August 30 for a plot to scam nearly 100 Asian immigrant families out of tuition paid for English-language instruction. Patrick Panettieri, 63, and Joanne Panettieri, 59, extracted tuition fees ranging from $100 to $2000 before shuttering the three storefronts in Sunset Park where classes were held in the middle of the semester. Guess how much money they made off with in total?

The Panettieris owned and operated the Chinatown Outreach Ministry School’s three locations in Sunset Park, which offered English as a Second Language instruction to preschool-age children in the area.

On August 13, parents arrived with their students to find that all three locations were vacant and locked, without any warning. The Panettieris had collected $25,000 in tuition from parents for the incomplete semester as well as advance tuition for the coming semester.

From there, the scam further unraveled. It emerged that some students were never supplied course books, classrooms were all overcrowded, and teachers were never properly trained. In two cases, classes were held in the basement of the buildings. In addition, many of those teachers are owed back pay, in some cases up to $2000.

The two face petit larceny, grand larceny, and fraud charges. Bail has been set at $150,000 a piece. They are both scheduled to appear in Brooklyn district court later today. Their defense attorneys are not immediately known.