Suspects In Food Pantry Theft Case Face New Charges

Arrests Source Of Embarrassment For Close-Knit Harrison

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.

RELATED: County Food Bank Director Mystified By 90-Year-Old’s Alleged Theft | 90-Year-Old Among Those Charged With Stealing From Food Pantry

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.

Are you shocked by the case? Sound off in our comments section.


One Comment

  1. oversight says:

    This should serve as a warning for those (black-white-hispanic etc.) that eventually their wrong doings will become visible. Food Pantries or Church pantries and donors are getting tax exemptions. These are legal issues with legal repercussions. I personally have witnessed theft of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods groceries being taken by the church deans and their families and friends before it is given for distribution. They pick the best things out expensive meats and cheeses go to them first with the moldy questionable food given to those in need. And when given out they say “it’s free if it is not good for you throw it was free”.
    It is a big business in the Church Community and a fraudulent one at that, not all but many. Pastors often do not want to get involved with these issues. I feel that an Oversight Organization needs to be established because the food and other items are not reaching the needy but the greedy. These types of fraud should be reported to the organization making the donations to the churches or the other latest one is “Thrift Stores” “cash establishments”.
    People pick up the food from the stores and take it home before it reaches the church. It would be nice if someone could develop a website with this stuff exposed.

  2. sola luna says:

    do you seriously think that this 90 year old woman actually NEEDS this stuff?
    i’m sorry. she is a lifetime resident of Harrison, NY (an affluent town). worked for the town for years, owns a two family house. i know her personally. she truly does NOT need to steal from the poor (or from anyone). i’m not saying she needs to go to statesville, however, this is like the pot calling the kettle black. this woman is simply not just hungry. she is greedy.
    a strict devout roman catholic who judges everyone and just got caught with her hand in the cookie jar! she has money, and took food from the mouths of needy families and their children. bad girl, bad girl.

  3. What If?? says:

    Answer this question. Do you think a volunteer who give up their free time shouldn’t also receive a donation of food from the pantry they work at for hours and days at a time. Some volunteer are on a monthly budget too and need the food and clothing just as those who line up everyday.

  4. Mr. Armenia says:

    This is a disgrace to us hardworking Italians.

  5. Pamela says:

    Every now and again, we have to use a food bank ourselves. I’m glad they are there. And yes, there are some people who go there who dont need to. I’m hoping these people werent taking the food and selling it.

    1. tweeq says:

      The news report left out what was done with the stolen food. Conveniently.

  6. Katie says:

    C’mon people, think about this for a minute…pretend it was your 90 year old grandmother, do you really think this lady deserves jail time? The other people involved are a disgrace and deserve whatever they get, but a 90 year old stealing soup cans or whatever it was she was pocketing does not need to go to jail. Remember, us hard working tax payers pay for every one of these people, so lets keep some logical perspective on the issue, she is not a danger to others and even if she’s a mean old theif, whats the point in sending her to jail? let her live the rest of her life, I hope that when im old an crazy, people will be a little more leniant with me.

    1. sola luna says:

      hey katie,
      she may be 90, but she’s not crazy. do i want to see her in prison? no! but this is a serious crime. do you or your loved ones need the food pantry? she has money had a job, for the town in which she lives & ran the meals on wheels in that very same town & volunteered for that pantry. still think she didn’t know what she was doing? or her 60 year old son also? they did it and need to pay for it somehow!!!
      it was very wrong. some of actually need the food pantry.
      by the way, just because people get old, it doesn’t mean they get crazy, or are you really that ignorant. and do you think that “crazy” people steal? and do you think that there really is such a thing as “crazy people”? cause if you do, than i’m talking to one right now.

  7. frankie says:

    You’d be better off with a cox

  8. tweeq says:

    How much was stolen? Was it for her use, or was it a profit motive.? The news report is unclear. This report SUX!

    1. JDNNYC says:

      I agree. The reporter totally SUCKED. I still have NO idea what these people did other than that they’re charged with robbery. Where does CBS New York find these reporters? Are they journalist teachers from public schools or just people they found at the bus station?

  9. George says:

    Gluttony… gluten is a wheat product…

  10. Quitit says:

    Sociopath’s always take things that don’t belong to them or that they may not even need. It’s a classic trait of these people. And they don’t feel bad or have remorse, they just portray a sense of morality because they got caught. If they had any morals in the first place they never would have done it. What looser. All those good people who work so hard to give the people in need a break and these idiots steal it.

  11. Homie says:

    All white people!

    1. Neece says:

      Yep! It looks to me that they are all white! Maybe they should be deported to their native land when they complete their sentences! It really is a shame…there are so many people going hungry in this country and the people that have are just a gluten. Gluteny is a sin!

    2. JDNNYC says:

      Yep, for once, (and only once) the criminals aren’t black. I’m surprised also. Don’t worry, by tonight we’ll see more violence and crime committed by some black person, so hang in there “Homie”.

      P.S. – You’re a racist ass_napkin.

  12. Tony says:

    There is no justification for what they did. We run a food pantry out of our local parish and there are several people who come for food that do not have a need. These people enjoy getting things for free. I find that terribly frustrating as we are always running out of goods to hand out.

    I do not believe any of these people needed what they took, but could not resist taking something for free and obviously were taking enough to initiate an investigation. They probably didn’t even keep it all to themselves, passing it on to friends and family who probably didn’t need it either. Keith, having a problem with taxes and bank interest rates does not give you the right to steal from the poor. Owning a home and having to pay taxes on it does not give you any kind of right to steal donated items for your own use. I donate a great deal of time and supplies to our food pantry as do many others in our parish and we certainly do not do it to give free food and clothing to those who already have.

  13. p gardner says:

    There are no excuses for stealing. Theft is theft.

  14. badman says:

    they must have stolen a lot to make such a big deal over this.

    She ain’t starving – -did you see her house?

    Public employees gaming the system. It happens every day (and then they cry foul when their cushy benefits are a target for cuts). These guys were dumb enough to get caught. Now they deserve what’s coming to them.

  15. Anna says:

    ok Keith,but it’s a food pantry..why didn’t they just ..Oh i dunno..ASK FOR FOOD INSTEAD OF STEALING IT.

    Also some people can;t even get credit in the people that go to the food pantry in the first place.

  16. nyck says:

    did these guys take a bag or two of food for themselves now and again, or were they moving cases out of the back door- HUGE difference!

  17. Bridget says:

    Could not have said it better Keith.

  18. keith says:

    For many people the cost of living today, especially in New York, is seriously out of whack. You’re taxed on your income, if you own property, on almost everything you buy. If you can’t make a full payment on your credit card, you’re taxed 30% on the outstanding amount, yet if you put that same amout in a savings bank, you get 0.1% interest. 300 times less than if you borrow money from credit card. And what are politicians doing to help the average citizen? Hey, I caught you laughing at that one! And these people, including a ninety-year-old woman, were caught stealing from a food pantry? MAYBE THEY WERE HUNGRY AND HAD NO MONEY TO BUY FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. 1608 says:

      Okay Keith I understand.

      Maybe had no money.

      Maybe hungry

      But it’s a FOOD PANTRY so why not just ask? Bye I have to learn more about the 1hr. train ride that took 4hrs. from Boston to Worcester. Have a good week everyone.

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