HARRISON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There were new charges Tuesday against the Westchester employees accused of stealing food and clothing meant for the poor.
One of them is a 90-year-old woman, once praised for her good work at the very pantry she’s accused of robbing, reports CBS 2’s Jay Dow.
Florence D’Imperio is a recent Harrison “Citizen of the Year” and former part-time municipal employee. She, along with five other defendants, stand accused of stealing donated goods from the local food pantry where she volunteered.
Police said their motive is still unclear.
“She was arraigned. We plead not guilty,” said John Raimondo, D’Imperio’s attorney.
Police announced upgraded criminal charges for D’Imperio on Tuesday. The key defendant now faces felony third degree burglary and official misconduct.
Another defendant, Joseph Arcara, remained silent during Tuesday’s arraignments at Harrison Municipal Court. He also faces an upgraded felony charge of third degree burglary.
The four other defendants, including Florence D’Imperio’s son, William, are all municipal employees and face a charge of misdemeanor petty larceny.
Defense attorney Kevin Kitson represents Cheryl Toplyn, who, like the others, has been suspended without pay.
“Her position is she’s not guilty, and we’ll let the court decide the case, not the newspapers,” Kitson said.
The arrests came after a two-month investigation that included police surveillance video of the alleged thefts. This case and the negative publicity have been a source of embarrassment and disappointment in this close-knit town where, as they say, everybody knows your name — and your business.
“Obviously the toll on all town employees — whether your friends or not — has been significant. People are embarrassed about what’s happened. People are concerned for their health and well being. These individuals are all people who we’ve all worked with and known for many, many years,” Harrison Village Attorney Robert Paladino said.
All six defendants are due back in court on April 12.
Two of the defendants have resigned from their jobs. Harrison will hold administrative hearings regarding the employment status of the other four.