Six Harrison town employees were arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing from the town's food pantry. The arrests were made after a three and a half month police investigation, said a source close to the situation.
Police arrested Florence D’Imperio, Harrison's 91-year-old Meals on Wheels Program Treasurer, along with her son Billy D’Imperio, Sherry Toplyn, a part-time town clerical employee and three other department of public works employees, the source said. The names of the three other employees have not been released.
The group was arrested for stealing food intended for Harrison’s families in need from the pantry located on Crotona Avenue. The thefts were intended as a money-making scheme, with the group re-selling the food for profit, the source said.
The town has suspended all six employees without pay, Harrison Mayor/Supervisor Joan Walsh confirmed Thursday. She would not elaborate on what charges the employees might face.
D’Imperio and Toplyn work in the town's community services office in town hall. Following her arrest D’Imperio reported to work at the office, but was subsequently given a letter of suspension and escorted from the building.
Harrison Director of Community Services Nina Marraccini originally tipped-off authorities that she suspected on-going theft from the pantry late last year, the source said.
Marraccini said she could not comment. Walsh confirmed Thursday that "disturbing" information came to light several months ago, which led to the on-going police investigation.
Police have tapes of the thefts taking place, the source said, but it is not clear at this time how much food was taken. It is believed that the thefts took place over a sustained period.
The Harrison Police Department said it will not comment on the issue, including potential charges, at this time.
The employees could face termination if they are found guilty of any future charges. On Thursday Walsh promised "appropriate action" on the part of the Harrison Town Board if it turns out the six are guilty.
Editor's Note: Information has been added to this article as it became available.