In April, HBO will premiere the Hugh Jackman movie Bad Education, which screened at TIFF last year. The trailer for the film, which also stars Allison Janney and Ray Romano, hit the interwebs today.
It’s a compelling trailer, and it’s clear that Jackman’s character is up to no good. The trailer, however, doesn’t offer much by way of specifics, except to note that it’s based on a true story. In fact, the movie was written by Mike Makowsky, who was a middle-schooler in Roslyn Heights, NY when the scandal with Frank Tassone, the superintendent of schools, broke open in 2004.
You can read the full account of Frank Tassone here or here, but the tl;dr is this: Frank Tassone was an incredibly charming superintendent who was so good at his job, and so well-liked by students, parents, and the community that he and his conspirators were able to basically scam the district for around $11 million, the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in history.
Tassone’s life began to unravel when Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) was discovered to have embezzled $250,000, and Tassone tried to cover it up because her embezzlement was connected to his much broader scheme to skim money from the district to pay for his fancy car, a nice house, and basically a second life. Tassone claimed to be a widow and even kept a photo of his “late wife” on his desk, but in reality, he “was living with one man in Manhattan while owning a house in Las Vegas with a 32-year-old male exotic dancer.”
The investigation into Gluckin eventually ensnared Tassone. Six people in all were arrested. Tassone eventually served about 4 years in prison, but — and get this — after prison, he continued to receive his $175,000 a year pension. Tassone was released from prison in 2010 — eight months early — while Gluckin was paroled in 2011. She also continued to receive her pension, although she sent half of it to the school district to pay restitution while she was in prison.