A New York City church pastor has been arrested on suspicion of stealing money from the parish after surveillance video captured him allegedly pocketing the church's offerings -- but he's still leading services at the church.
Pastor Daniel Iampaglia was arrested at the Rock Church on East 62nd Street on Nov. 24 on a charge of petit larceny, according to police. He was issued a desk appearance ticket and released the same day, scheduled to return Jan. 5.
But in the meantime, he's continuing to hold services, and parishioners are not happy.
Church board members became suspicious after Iampaglia was hospitalized for three weeks, and during his absence, donations during their regular Sunday and Tuesday collections tripled.
They set up a camera, and video from it, obtained exclusively by NBC 4 New York, captured Iampaglia repeatedly going into the church office and pocketing cash from the offerings envelope, board members say.
"He would go in repeatedly," said Sue Cruz, one of the board members. "I think there was one day he went in three times."
When board members confronted the pastor one Sunday after church in November, "the ironic thing is, he called the police to have the board expelled from the church for harassment," according to board member Joseph McGee.
But after seeing the videos, cops arrested Iampaglia instead, for allegedly stealing $238.
Still, Iampaglia is working at the church.
"Right after he was arrested, the following Sunday I thought he'd be too ashamed to come downstairs and preach. He preached," said Cruz.
The board can't fire him because it's currently embroiled a civil lawsuit filed two years ago to have the pastor removed. They said he violated bylaws and misused funds in that case, but a judge has prohibited the board from firing Impaglia while the lawsuit is pending.
Impaglia hung up when NBC 4 New York reached him by phone. His lawyer later sent a statement to NBC 4, saying Iampaglia is "well-respected" and that "he has the support of his congregation."
"He adamantly denies any allegations of wrongdoing and looks forward to his day in Court," said attorney Joseph Indusi."These false allegations against the Pastor are a baseless attempt to gain control and improperly manipulate the Church's leadership. We are confident we will prevail in Court."
Church members said they believe in forgiveness but want Impaglia removed immediately.
"This is a church, we worship the Lord," said Cruz. "How can you have a thief as a pastor?"