After considering a plea offer already accepted by five other former town employees charged with stealing from the Harrison Food Pantry, Adam Straface appears ready to take his case to trial.
In a brief appearance in Harrison Court Tuesday Straface's attorney Russell Smith told Judge Ronald Bianchi that they have not agreed to a plea deal with the district attorney's office and are prepared to go to trial to fight a single charge of petit larceny. A trial date has been set for August 9.
Straface is the only remaining defendant in an alleged series of thefts from the food pantry over a two month span from Dec. 2010 to January of this year. William D'Imperio, Florence D'Imperio, Jack Arcara, Joseph Arcara and Sherryl Toplyn have all pleaded guilty to a single count of petit larceny and agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and a $205 surcharge.
Smith said in court that his client is moving for a jury trial when the case is heard in August. Judge Bianchi gave Smith two weeks to submit any pre-trial motions before the case is again heard in open court.
Straface and Smith did not comment while leaving Harrison court Tuesday.
All six of the former employees were after Harrison Police conducted a two-month investigation. A police surveillance video allegedly shows at least some of the defendants stealing from the pantry.
According to his original arrest report, Straface admitted to police that he and Joseph Arcara stole multiple food and clothing items from the food pantry on Dec. 20, 2010.
Straface gave police a gray long-sleeved Andy Warhol shirt and a pair of Ralph Lauren cargo shorts, according to his arrest report. Other defendants were charged with taking either food items or shoes from the pantry on separate dates.
Originally, Straface faced the least serious charges of the six defendants. Joseph Arcara and Florence D’Imperio had faced . In addition, Florence D’Imperio had faced eight counts of petit larceny and Joseph Arcara faced six counts. Jack Arcara faced five counts of petit larceny, while William D'Imperio faced two.
All six of the accused had been working for the town to some extent at the time of their arrests. Florence D’Imperio had worked part-time as Harrison Meals on Wheels treasurer but resigned in February. Toplyn had worked as a part-time clerical worker and also resigned soon after her arrest. William D’Imperio was a supervisor in the Harrison Parks Department, but from town employment on March 17. The , who were laborers in the parks department, on March 3.
The delivers food to about 80 low-income Harrison families and accepts cash donations from local organizations on an on-going basis.