County Food Bank Director Mystified By 90-Year-Old’s Alleged Theft

HARRISON, N.Y. (CBS 2) — The suspects accused of stealing donated food from some of their poorest neighbors in Harrison were nowhere to be found Tuesday afternoon.

The arrest of 90-year-old Florence D’Imperio stunned the Westchester County community. The elderly volunteer was recently named citizen of the year by Harrison’s mayor for her work at the food pantry that she allegedly plundered.

Christina Rohatynski, the director of the county-wide food bank, was mystified by the thefts of donated food.

“What were they thinking? I mean, how much can this be worth?” Rohatynski asked CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Rohatynski was especially mystified by the thefts because it allegedly involved D’Imperio and her son, William, who is a foreman with the Harrison Department of Public Works.

Police found it so difficult to believe the elderly volunteer and city employees were stealing donated food they set a two-month long surveillance to confirm their suspicions.

In addition to D’Imperio’s son, four other city employees were also arrested. The situation has become a major embarrassment for the Town of Harrison, which is trying not to talk about it.

In an exchange with Young, the town’s attorney said Mayor Joan Walsh was in meetings all day and “not available for comment.”

CBS 2 was eventually told that the accused city employees have been suspended for the time being. Other sources also confirmed that Harrison’s Director of Public Services called police when she suspected someone was stealing.

“She said ‘I saw a lot of the food missing.’ So that’s when she blew the whistle,” Rohatynski said.

All six of the defendants will be arraigned next week.

More from Lou Young
  • martin

    a mother and son i take care of my elderly mother and a lot of times money and food are tight we would never steal from anyone throw the book at these people what kind of mother is she citizen of the month how about thief of the year thats okay she ll be going some where where its hot all year burn baby burn

  • MotherT

    This may be a little long…my apologies. I volunteer for Hands of Hope Food Bank in Reno, NV. It is not government funded. We are self-sustaining. In order to keep volunteers from taking “extras”, we simply have made box tags. Boxes are approved by the facilitators before they can be removed from the building. It works quite well.

  • No Freeloader

    I would like to see all food banks closed and welfare abolished. Families should take take care of their own I am sick of freeloaders with their hands out.

  • alp

    Not all food pantries are the same. My wife managed a food pantry for several years. The rules required proper application, names, soc sec no’s, proof of residence, and proof of income. Workers were not clients. Open 1 time per month Workers respected all food and funds were contributed and should be managed accordingly. We later worked for years at another location. There were no application requirements or records kept. Most of the workers were also clients and there was no question they had first pick and took care of themselves. I client worker picked up for more than 10 families monthly. Did they exist? The pantry was run by a beneficient 90+ lady. It was her way or the highway. We could work and not see what was happening or quit. We finally have quit.

  • bob k

    How much food did they steal?

    It could be like an office supplies thing — they thought people doing volunteer work could take a little bit of free food for themselves.

    People are too quick to condemn before they know the facts.

  • chiliboots

    Trust in Food Banks is so touching; do you see any oversight of them, anywhere?

    Also, where did the ‘stolen’ food go? As Ratso Rizzo said: ” If it’s free, then I ain’t Stealin'”

  • bigred

    If it is free food, is it really stealing?….Just sayin

    • me

      Sure it’s stealing. It wasn’t freely given.

      • jane

        i would never think people would do this. wouldn’t they just tell the boss “hey i also need help.” unless they took large amounts. did they break in? weird and very unfortunate.

  • John

    I told my elderly Mom that she could deduct the $10 a week she puts in the basket at church, from her taxes. She refused to do it feeling somehow it was unethical. This 90 year old lady knew darn well she and her son were stealing from the poor. Shame on them. I say make them both pay restitution.

    • Jeff Rosenbury

      Who do you trust? Do you trust six respected volunteers or the politicians who won’t go on record?

      There’s more to this story. We should wait until the alleged thieves get to tell their side before passing judgement.

      • Antonio

        Did you not read the story??? The police ran a 2 month long surveillance to confirm their suspicions.

      • Jeff Rosenbury

        I can think of a half a dozen legitimate reasons to take food from a food bank. I can think of half a dozen illegitimate reasons for rich politicians to want to shut a food bank down. Food banks attract homeless people.

        A two month investigation would have discovered a motive. A ten minute discussion would have discovered a motive. Claiming they were charging someone with a crime with no idea of the motive is unbelievable.

        So we are presented with a group of known liars accusing a group of known compassionate people with a crime. Yes, I want to hear both sides.

  • lippy

    Now even the food banks need a bailout!

  • big john

    you resemble that statement

  • Ihaverage?

    This is stupid. It is just people that have anger issues and can’t conduct themselves as adults.

  • Seth

    …”especially mystified by the thefts because it allegedly involved D’Imperio and her son, William, who is a foreman with the Harrison Department of Public Works…In addition to D’Imperio’s son, four other city employees were also arrested…CBS 2 was eventually told that the accused city employees have been suspended for the time being.”

    It’s time for justice to prevail! FIRE on the spot any public employee caught stealing. They have been “suspended for the time being”? Until what? Until we stop paying attention?! Outrageous! This is yet another proof the PUBLIC sector UNIONS are out of control! And while the city is at it, wipe out his pension and let him look for another job. This is infuriating!

    • Sarah

      In this country we are innocent until proven guilty.

      • PatrickM

        “Police found it so difficult to believe the elderly volunteer and city employees were stealing donated food they set a two-month long surveillance to confirm their suspicions.”

        Ya, I think they are guilty. No question.

      • PatrickM

        “Police found it so difficult to believe the elderly volunteer and city employees were stealing donated food they set a two-month long surveillance to confirm their suspicions.”

        Ya, pretty sure she is guilty. They have proof.

    • Jeff Rosenbury

      Until they have a trial? Do you remember those? We had them before we invented flash mob justice.

  • Buck Keely

    It is a sad state of affairs when one steals free food.
    Heirloom seeds “how God plants His garden

    • paul


  • tuna

    she’s old. for get it.

    the real problem is the elderly being robbed of their homes by so called ‘religious charities’. they offer help, such as shopping and cleaning, but their goal is to get their valuables, and their house if they have one.

    • Seth

      No doubt an atheist comment…proving you have zero knowledge about all the great things Food Banks are a big part of not to mention the multitudes of terrific volunteers. The poor depend upon Food Banks. The Government should stop “helping” with food stamps etc., because all they really do is keep these poor people in poverty all their lives. When the Government “gives” you a check they ask have you had help from anyone else? If you have, they deduct that amount of help from your check, which keeps the poor downtrodden. Government having hoards of dependents keeps them in power. Charity should be returned entirely to the church. Teach people who can’t go to college a trade and forklift the poor people in our nation out of their dumpster existence. TUNA, you have FISH for brains!

      • Pouteria

        The Government should stop “helping” with food stamps etc., because all they really do is keep these poor people in poverty all their lives.


  • Steve

    Our church had a food pantry for 18 years – and I’ve seen it all. I had a large family that helped out for a while who made more than twice as much money as I do. They were caught literally using our donated food for their personal grocery store. They went so far as to can hundreds of pounds of donated potatoes and stock piled their freezers with donated meat. Some people think they have a RIGHT to whatever they want as long as they’re the ones handing it out!

  • jtsgrandmom

    Stealing mone is one thng. Stealing food another. I could never prosecute someone who needs to steal just to eat.

    • Dove

      Why would you need to steal FREE food??? And if Large quantities of food were being taken, they were not using it to assuage their hunger. They were probably selling it. No excuse for this at all….You can beat it like a missouri mule people, and it still will not make good sense!

      • lifenergy

        SELLING IT……REALLY! Come on people there is more than beats the eye here. This women is 90 YEARS OLD a given person all of her LIFE. Politics you suck. This women WAS NOT STEALING, HOW DARE THE NEWS portray this person as a thief. I understand she has been a part of that food shelter for most of her adult life. WHY NOW would this women all of a sudden be called a thief. This women has been a native of Harrison. Italians are a very close knit family. A mother saying here take this, have that, give, give, give not steal, steal, steal.
        Admittedly, she is from the old school and life today is so much different and yes there are channels that need to be applied when giving the food to local families but there certainly is no stealing here just giving and yes legally it was wrong but nothing malicious going on here. No one died, no one got hurt, everyone who needed food still got their food so a few extra people got a ham or a turkey or whatever. This is blown way out of proportion. Lets here the whole story before you hang her and the employees. I am sure this is a crime of the heart not of the POCKET, There is a difference. Politics can get very nasty. They are the liars here!
        That women Rohatyaski looks like she has a bug up her @$$

  • lucille

    this is common.

  • Harpotoo

    Democrats! Always looking for something FOR NOTHING!

    • Pouteria

      Republicans- Always wanting wealth without having to pay for it

      • Paul

        What the heck are you talking about? It’s the Democrat that always wants someone else’s wealth. Republicans EARN their wealth without having the guns of the government forcing others to pay them. Try learning something. Conservatives don’t want to force anyone to give them your money. You do.


    Would it surprise you to know that many people using the food banks are actually on food stamps. They waste the foodstamps on luxury foods and junk then towards the end of the month they run out and hit the food banks! We need to end the food stamp program and go back to food banks giving govt cheese and rice. No more steak and lobster on my dime!

  • Sam

    I think what we need to attnd to are the embarrassed city offcials. They were betrayed like the Cain and Abel story. This type of theft covered up under the disguise of voluteerism is atrocious. The thief found an easy way to get to food stores and exploited the cities trust. Trust was lost here in this incident. We complain about the behavior of younger folks and look what this 90 year old did with her family? Disgusting. If I were the mayor, i would cry.

  • Roze

    Excuse me? So because she is Italian, which is White or Caucasian by the way, she harbors “deceit” in her genes? First of all, Sicilians, who are mostly involved with the mafia, are not 100% Italian and secondly, being of Italian heritage I take offence to that statement.

  • August

    I don’t donate to food banks anymore; I tell the food banks I WANT ABSOLUTELY NO RESTRICTIONS on my donated food…they always tell me “We can’t do that”

    • John Bensley

      Sincere question: What do you mean by restrictions?

  • Dwayne Golden

    My grandmother began to have driving issues, irrational ideas, and she began to forget how to do some very basic things. Later we learned that she had a Astrocytoma that had affected her mental ability. This lady is 90 years old and this incident could be a clue that something is simply going wrong upstairs. Before we begin to judge this Lady, who obviously has a great track record, it is wise to keep in mind such things.

    • Dove

      “All six of the defendants will be arraigned next week”

      So what are the other 5 peoples excuses? They all got a disease at the same time?……. I guess they did …. it’s called Cleptomania…..

  • joe smith

    jane anderson, i love it! you’re a regular robin hood, that you are. living off everybody elses money and giving it away at the food bank! im so glad i float your joke of a life, here at work, always at work for you freeloaders.

    • jane Anderson

      Me? Robin Hood? You and others like you may lose your own job some day. Then we will see how much you love Robin Hood. What was that about me “living off of everybody elses money?” I am assuming you are trying to say Social Security income. Which I paid dearly over the years from taxes out of my paycheck.

      Before you continue to be glad and “float my joke of a life” float this: The income I am now receiving from Social Security came from taxes I paid from 40 years of work.

      Before you float anymore, then float this: The taxes everyone pays into Social Security are also use to fund other programs. If this was not being done, there would be a lot of interest earned at retirement “for us freeloaders” – those who paid into Social Security for 40 years.

      As you float, then float this: Some years Social Security has a surplus. The surplus is invested to earn interest.

      Take time from your floating to figure out how much interest would be earned if the money that was taken out of our paychecks to fund our Social Security when we retire was iinstead nvested privately. How much interest would a person end up with?

      I am “living off everybody elses money? And “giving it away at the food bank?” That money came out of paycheck when my pay was taxed for Social Security.

      • Jake Holmes

        What you paid into Social Security man years ago, was used many years ago. It’s a huge ponzi scheme that I won’t see anything from (I’m 22). We have to end the dependence on government because it can never do anything effectively. The times of surplus for Social Security are long gone and so is the interest. There’s not enough people to “float” the ponzi scheme anymore. Wake up and think about the people coming down the road.

  • luckydog

    Do gooders ain’t so good. Surprise!

  • Amber

    This is a very vague story. They leave a lot to the imagination and are only telling one side. How do we know that they were keeping all the food for themselves? My first thought was that maybe the pantry was denying certain people because they didn’t think they were poor enough. That happens a lot. I have heard numerous stories of people who really are in need being denied because they had a part time job or something. What if the people were stealing it to give it to people like that? I’m just sayin, there is 2 sides to every story. By the way, it’s never okay to steal and I am not condoning. Just wondering.

    • Roze

      Exactly. There was a reason they were stealing food, I’m sure they had a good one.

      • Charlene

        Allegedly, they were selling what they stole.

      • Donna

        Sorry to say that these people are not needy…the 90 year old woman has a pension from the town and it is believed that this has been going on for years. Her son and the other ones accused have very good paying jobs; none of them are in need of food stamps, etc. As a matter of fact, at least two of them have second homes in Florida. Do they sound needy?

  • Leroy Whitby

    I understand the mother and son perfectly. They were thieves and conmen. Had been all along.

  • A.J.

    This is normal. At most of these giveaway or thrift stores, the employees will Always Skim the best items for themselves.
    Goodwill got busted pretty bad for this, so they don’t do it quite as much as b4

    • drosliim

      I can’t believe some of these comments…..
      If you think it’s acceptable to steal, when you work for a charity, or anywhere for that matter, you are a thief. Pretty simple……….

      • Jake Holmes

        I don’t think he was saying its acceptable. He’s just commenting that it happens quite often.

  • Trish

    May be they were hungry. I don’t think anyone will hire a 90 year old to work for them, heck, no one wants to hire anyone over 50.

  • Susan

    Having worked in a government job for a short time I know that the hypocrits who were manning the local food bank farce ate off the donations. So I don’t donate to them.

    • Dan

      Susan: The food pantry mentioned may be a “government” entity but the article doesn’t state it. I volunteer at a county wide food pantry which is not run by any “government”. It was created by a local church over a decade ago and provides help to folk via public donations. We serve 1000+ people monthly.

  • John

    if you are a banker you can not only steal from the public but you will even get reimburst by your effords by the goverment.
    If you steal a can of food you will get a year or more in jail.

    • Jane Anderson

      Jean Valjean lives. 5 years for the original theft.

  • DigitalBob

    Just try to tell me this isn’t Bush’s fault.

    • Trey

      How is it Bush’s fault? You idiot thinkers are the ones responsible for the idiot we have has president now.

  • Taro Topor

    I’ve worked as a volunteer in many non-profits over the past 45 years. It is GENERALLY understood that the poorer and homeless volunteers get “first dibbs” at the donations coming in—Hell I got some Gucci neckties hanging in my closet now that I snagged from donation pick-ups (and I’m not all that needy).

    • Jane Anderson

      Generally understood? Do people volunteer only so they can steal? This is just plain wrong. If I go out of my way to buy food for the food pantry (and I do) then why should I continue? I will not sacrifice things I need just so a “volunteer” can steal what I donate. Look – I am on Social Security. My money runs out in the middle of the month. But some people rely on food pantries so I buy food and give. Maybe I should stop doing that.

      • bemused

        Yes, maybe you should. If people would stick to helping their own families, most charity would be unnecessary. Family seems to mean nothing to anymore.

  • Sky

    How is this even a news story? How much food did they steal (what is “a lot”)? How did they steal it? What are the details of the “sting”?

    At this point, I know as much from the written news report as I could find out from asking my Mom. If you don’t have enough information to file a news report, then DON’T FILE A NEWS REPORT.

    • Bronx Native

      You Sky! Who the f–k died and made you editor? Why don’t you do us all a favor and shut your stupid piehole!

  • jennifer

    Wow. Such a sad story. I wonder how many other places have this sort of thing happening.

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