.

Felony Charge Added For Two Pantry Theft Suspects

Police have charged Florence D’Imperio and Joseph Arcara with third degree burglary, a class D felony, in addition to petit larceny charges.

Felony charges have been added against two of the six town employees who police believe stole food and clothing from the Harrison Food Pantry.

Florence D’Imperio, 90, and Joseph Arcara, 54, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to all charges including third degree burglary — a class D felony — and previous charges of petit larceny. A misdemeanor official misconduct charge was also added against Florence D'Imperio.

No charges were added against Jack Arcara, 48, Adam Straface, 26, William D’Imperio, 60, and Sherry Toplyn, 58, all of whom pleaded not guilty to petit larceny.

Judge Ronald Bianchi accepted the pleas. All six of the employees have obtained council.

The Harrison Police Department released a statement Tuesday saying the felony charges were added after "careful review of overwhelming and compelling evidence".

Police said they are still reviewing the case, opening the door for further charges. Harrison Village Attorney Robert Paladino said Tuesday that police have had "months" of video evidence to look through, confirming for the first time just how much of the alleged criminal actions were caught on tape.

All six employees were allowed to enter through the back employee entrance to town hall before Tuesday's court appearance, avoiding television camera crews waiting in front of the building. Paladino said that the town allowed the suspects to use the back entrance on the advice of the district attorney.

"We knew it was extremely busy," Paladino said. "The DA had advised us that they wanted to handle all of them at once and they wanted to handle them as the first case of the day."

The suspects passed through security after entering the building, Paladino said, adding that the back door has been used at times for high-profile cases. "It was really (more) to accommodate the DA than ourselves," he said.

Toplyn arrived at the back entrance at about 9:15 a.m., she did not comment as she quickly passed two reporters on her way in. After leaving court Jack Arcara quickly entered a four-door vehicle behind the building and left the scene.

The other suspects entered through the back door as well, but were not seen.

Florence D’Imperio served as Harrison Meals on Wheels Treasurer and was the Harrison Citizen of the Year in 2001. William D’Imperio is a supervisor in the Harrison Parks Department and worked with Joe and Jack Arcara as well as Straface. Toplyn had organized and operated a new  program at the  for the last six months. 

Since their arrests on Feb. 15 Toplyn and Florence D’Imperio have resigned from their positions. Their official resignation will go before the Harrison Town Board on Thursday, Paladino said.

The town has suspended Joseph Arcara, Jack Arcara, William D’Imperio and Straface without pay. They could face termination if found guilty, but Harrison Mayor/Supervisor Joan Walsh said the town will wait until the legal process plays out before making a decision.

The arrest of the six employees has brought widespread negative publicity to Harrison, as news of a former Citizen of the Year facing criminal charges has spread to a national level. News crews from several New York City stations were parked in front of town hall for most of Tuesday morning.

"People are embarrassed by what's happened," Paladino said. "This is certainly not something anyone expects to see."

In a statement last week Walsh said that there is a "stunning amount of misinformation circulating" and asked residents to avoid speculation until the case goes to court.

With the six employees holding obvious ties to the community, some have questioned the town's ability to handle the situation without bias, something Paladino said he doesn't expect to be a problem.

"This town board has been steadfast in its willingness to address hard issues and to treat people fairly," he said. "There should be no suggestion that anyone would receive special treatment—anyone in this case or any other matter that comes before the town board."

In addition to the felony charges, Florence D’Imperio faces eight previous counts of petit larceny and Joseph Arcara faces six counts. Toplyn and Jack Arcara face five counts of petit larceny, William D’Imperio faces two counts and Straface faces a single count.

All six of the employees originally turned themselves in to police after the investigation and have been released without bail. Arrest reports show that the alleged thefts took place from Dec. 20, 2010 to Jan. 26, 2011.

Joseph Arcara and Straface were both listed as committing thefts on Dec. 20, 2010. During an interview with police Straface admitted that he and Joseph Arcara stole multiple food and clothing items from the food pantry on that date, according to his arrest report.

Straface gave police a gray long-sleeved Andy Warhol shirt and a pair of Ralph Lauren cargo shorts, according to his arrest report. While interviewing Toplyn police seized a handbag that they say she used to conceal a pair of women's shoes she took from the pantry. 

The other alleged thefts took place at different dates and times, according to the arrest reports.

The misdemeanor larceny charges could carry up to a year in prison if the six are convicted. Florence D’Imperio and Joseph Arcara could face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the felony burglary charge.

The case was adjourned until April 12.

John Tirella March 02, 2011 at 02:43 AM
They look like they are all well fed! What's the book in the "Brentwood". Bond no Bond? Plea Bargin or Trial by their peers? I bet their is a deal in the making! Any takers? What's the odds on this one?
John Tirella March 02, 2011 at 02:53 AM
It will never happen! They all we get off with a slap on the wrist. You all watch and learn.
Donna March 02, 2011 at 02:58 AM
With the new charges, their chances for a "slap on the wrist" are gone. I doubt that Flo will be in stripes, but getting away with this is not happening. Perhaps if they plea bargained at the very beginning, something might have been done. Not now. By the way, didn't two of those accused admit to stealing? How can they now plead not guilty? Perhaps an attorney on this board can answer that one.
Zach Oliva (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 03:30 AM
There's a difference between admitting to something to police and admitting to something in open court. At this point essentially anyone charged with a crime will plead not guilty unless a deal has been made the with district attorney.
Nurse Ratched March 02, 2011 at 03:32 AM
Im going to take a shot in the dark here. At the begining of the next Town Board Meeting our MAYOR will read a prepared statement, written by Pallidino of course, and it will go something like this. "Over the past few months the Police Dept launched an investigation into thefts at our local food pantry( lick lips). To our horror it was found that six of our employees were ALLEGEDLY involved in the theft (lick lips). I ask that our town reserves judgement until all the facts come to light and the criminal court case is settled (lick lips). Because this is a personnel matter I ask the public to refrain from making public statements about the issue because we as a town board cannnot discuss it for fear of litigation against the town (Pats cell phone go's off). I would like to remind everyone that the VAST majority of our workers are hard working and law abiding citizens(lick lips). THANK YOU Oh By the way, the UNIONS are at fault for our financial mess. Lucille, would you like to comment on that?"
Donna March 02, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Thank you Zach for the information. I guess I would have kept my mouth shut and not admitted anything, screaming for my lawyer...LOL.
Dr. Vinny Boombatza March 02, 2011 at 05:01 AM
Nurse, just to clarify a piece of information. Mr. Paladino can practice law before a judge. Although not his forte he is skilled in contract negotiation and execution. He is in good standing in the State of New York and always has been. If he wasn't he couldn't serve in his position as Village Attorney. Although I agree that it was for other reasons some of the defendants were brought through the back door, I also think he has done a much better job handling the press than the Mayor could have done. He is well spoken, honestly concerned about the outcome and I feel genuinely concerned about the reputation of the employees who do their jobs day in and day out. He is in every respect the proxy Mayor without the job title but with the better common sense and skill. He is loyal to his boss. Whether you like her or not, would you want his job? It’s obvious that most time her comments do not go through the common sense filter part of the brain. He’s a good spin master. That’s why he’s where he is. He’s the fixer. Right now we should be glad he’s there. Imagine the even bigger circus if the Mayor at 78 years old was putting out statements. Keeping her quite is just what our town needs right now. She’s divided the community so many times. We don’t need that now. We need a conciliator.
Dr. Vinny Boombatza March 02, 2011 at 05:09 AM
Nurse: Much better blog then the last....Laughing very hard. You are right on target! Only thing is I think Lucille is out of town. If she is back, some how this will become the fault of HPD.
Nurse Ratched March 02, 2011 at 05:25 AM
DR Vin. Its not that I dont like the Mayor, its not a personal thing. Im just tired of her talking out of both sides of her mouth. I voted for her twice. Not gonna make the same mistake a third time.
MurphysLaw March 02, 2011 at 05:43 AM
Let's put it like this. There is only so much that Joan Walsh can hide in regards to this case. The only person that she can hide is Bob Paladino. Come on town of Harrison. Wake up. She has overstayed her welcome. Stop voting for her. She has put us in the spotlight for 4 years negatively. First it was the police department they didn't have state accreditation. They (HPD) spent hours and hours getting that done. Then the police department needed a person to watch them(bizarre) never before happened in the state of New York. In the middle of all this was Ralph Tancredi and Steve Heisler suspensions and subsequent firings. She voted not to fire either of them. Facebook 4 incident happens she destroys them in front of every news station under the sun stating they need to be fired. Then the union negotiations and the golf cart incident probably a official misconduct. Come on residents be smart this November lets start fresh. Get her out of that seat. We need a leader she is not the leader that the majority Of the residents thought she would be.
MurphysLaw March 02, 2011 at 05:46 AM
Revoke Flos Citizen of the YEAR AWARD take her name off the wall in the town house. Dr. Vinny Judy D was there today. I saw her. Along with her sister. No sign of Matty D though he is in hiding. If that was my mother in law I would be hiding in Florida also.
Dr. Vinny Boombatza March 02, 2011 at 05:52 AM
My sincere and absolute apology to Judy. I am so sorry if my statement caused any harm. I asked several people if they were there and was told no. I will delete the post and again, my sincerest apology.
Dr. Vinny Boombatza March 02, 2011 at 06:00 AM
Never said you liked her. Never voted for her and never will. All started when my grandmother worked 43 years doing the local elections. When she was sick, deathly sick, and no longer able to work a family member asked her while she was town clerk for a letter thanking my grandmother for all of her years of service and her response was "Our office doesn't do that." Well, this family doesn't pull the lever for her. Ever!
Dr. Vinny Boombatza March 02, 2011 at 06:13 AM
Seems like it's correction night. She voted to fire Ralph Tancredi. She voted to keep Steve Hiesler. Vetere voted to keep both. Both voted against the stipulation reached by Mr. Paladino to keep the FB4. They cut Mr. Paladino's legs right out from under him. They would have spent at least a million tax dollars that she keeps saying we don't have to fire them. But she won't buy spare parts for equipment and raised pool fees to by 400%. Then asked for town employees to pitch in 1 million. Streets with pothole a foot deep....Ahhhh, The Joan Walsh prioty system.
Zach Oliva (Editor) March 02, 2011 at 02:09 PM
In all fairness, though, public officials are somewhat handcuffed as far as comments are concerned. As has been shown in previous cases, anything the board says will likely be used in appeals court if anyone is found guilty and later fired by the town.
Donna March 02, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Zach: I agree. Town officials need to be very careful about what they say regarding this matter; truthfully, they should say nothing about the matter. It's in the courts. I wish that people realize that none of them can give their feelings or opinions on any of this. Once the issue is decided in court, the Board will have to make the tough decisions.
stolibuca March 02, 2011 at 02:44 PM
if this happened to any person other than a town employee you would lose your job and pension immediatly, no two ways about it. Then the court would decide the rest of the punishment. Give me a break, this town is ridiculous in the way that some people think it would be OK for any of these people to get thier jobs back and keep thier pensions........ ridiculous
Donna March 02, 2011 at 02:49 PM
No matter if we like it or not, the laws says innocent until proven guilty. As far as pensions go, I don't think the Town can dictate that. The state runs the pension system, not the town, and like it or not, there are laws in place to protect these people from being unjustly fired. People who want to see the accused swinging at high noon don't realize that this has to go through the courts. I'm not defending these people, just pointing out that you must remember how America was built.
stolibuca March 02, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Innoncent until proven guilty is the law, I will agree with that. However these people were all caught on tape for months doing somethng that is despicable, and some even admitted thier guilt. It is just a matter of time before they get what they deserve
Donna March 02, 2011 at 03:14 PM
I'd rather they do it right the first time, leaving little room for appeals, etc. One wrong word and this case can go on forever.
Katie Kelly March 02, 2011 at 06:10 PM
MurphysLaw, get your eyes checked Judy was not there
Gandhi March 02, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Zach Thank you for the follow up on all information and Long time you are correct. Lets hope this is a step in the right direction for change and keeping many on there toes.
Ada B Angarano March 02, 2011 at 08:01 PM
I have been watching from the shadows as I was away when this took place, but Nurse Ratchet 'hit the nail on the head' and actually put a smile on my face even with all this Peyton Place drama happening! By the way, kudos to Chief Marraccini, Nina Marraccini & the HPD for busting up this wierd Food Pantry stealing ring! The Chamber donated money to Meals on Wheels, was any of that stolen too? Ada Angarano
MurphysLaw March 03, 2011 at 12:03 AM
My eyes are fine Katie Kelly how are yours?
Katie Kelly March 03, 2011 at 12:26 AM
MurphysLaw, mine sight is 20/20 don't know who yo saw but it's obvious you don't know what Judy looks like 'cause she was not there.
MurphysLaw March 03, 2011 at 04:06 AM
"mine sight" "yo" "cause" a lot of slang for a run on sentence.
Dr. Vinny Boombatza March 03, 2011 at 04:45 AM
Sorry I asked the question! Really, when it's all said and done, who cares! If she showed up that's what she should have done. If she didn't, well, what can you say? Let's get back on topic. Although a sad situation I found humor with the veil. Mug shot posted across the country in every major media market. My cousin called from Atlanta and it made the evening news. The Citizen of the Year sash would have made the outfit complete. Is this all crazy or what? The Doctor is leaving the office and getting ready for another day in the greatest town in the world!
observer March 03, 2011 at 05:44 AM
The mayor did not bring this terrible negative attention to Harrison this time. Who uncovered the thefts and decided to handle this publicly like a circus? Why didn't they confront them quietly and demand resignations the way it was done in the past thefts that everyone knows about? I don't think its the actual crime as much as who did it that most of you are excited about. Could it be a tiny bit political? We all know it would have saved time, money and gotten a lot less negative press for our town to keep this internal, but they are obviously not friends with the right people. This is rediculous, and our town looks rediculous, and most of you people are hypocrites. definition: a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. ... a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude,
MurphysLaw March 03, 2011 at 07:42 AM
Observer the reasons it wasn't done quietly is too many to list. You have many people in and out of that building during normal business hours(town employees). So therefore you have to put time into an investigation. This isn't political. Poor Nina saw a larger quantity of food being requested during the holidays. The food was missing. You have to find out who is taking the food hence video surveillance. If you watched Chief Maracinni's interview on channel 12 and other stations he stated there were many employees who entered the building and did their business and exited. Others the six charged entered and committed a crime. So all this bs that this was politically motivated give the town a break. Not friends with the right people? They are the So called "in families of town" that others used that term on the blogs. You can't expect this to be quiet you have a 90 year old who is the alleged "ringleader". Come on are you a family member? Who are you calling hypocrites? I have virtues I go to church. You should not steal. Especially from the poor. Desires public approval? I'm on a screen name along with others. Principals I go to work every day to provide for my family I don't ask for anymore from anyone. So do us a favor if you dont like the blog don't read it.
bob job March 03, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Well Harrison is at it again.It seems I have watched this sitcom year after year for way to many years.Different faces,same old story.The people of Harrison get what they deserve,they vote them in and they fail us time after time.Look around folks,your town is the victim of many years of bad managment.And just think,you put them there.Wake up,it's getting late.How in the world can person like Joan Walsh become mayor?Not once but twice.She's laughing all the way to the bank,with your money.Way to go people of Harrison,better luck next time.........

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »