LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Colonie police say they arrested Chavez R. Gibbs, 27, of Troy for reportedly stealing over $50,000 worth of food from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
The Latham food bank reported that 31,542 pounds of food—that’s over 15 U.S. tons—worth $51,098.04 between March 13 and June 25.
“Nothing like this has ever happened like this in 38 years for us. So when we heard about it, it’s like, how is this even possible?” said Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York Executive Director Mark Quandt
According to police, Gibbs used the account of his former employer, social services organization the Albany Damien Center, to methodically steal food 42 times over that roughly three-month period. He then sold the food to other local non-profits, pocketed the revenue, and left the Damien Center with the bill.
Despite the food being worth more than $50,000, it was all donated.
“nobody should be profiting from the food we distribute. It’s not the intent,” Quandt said.
The Damien Center was alerted of the alleged fraud on Friday June 26 when they received an invoice for $1700, which is a “handling fee.” When the organization explained they had not ordered food in months due to the pandemic, police were notified and waited for Gibbs to make his pick-up on Tuesday June 30, where he was arrested.
“It’s just very disheartening to hear that somebody would use our food bank number to take product and allegedly steal it to get their own benefit from that,” said Albany Damien Center Executive Director Perry Junjulas.
“He’s familiar with this system because he worked for the Damien center. He was a chef for them. He was ordering food through the Regional Food Bank. So in this case, it seems to be narrowly focused to non-for-profits,” said Colonie Police Lieutenant Bob Winn.
Gibbs is on probation after a conviction for larceny and identity theft, and police said there may be other non-profits that are victims of his scheme. If you or someone you know were a victim or has any information on Gibbs, contact your local police department.
Gibbs is charged with second-degree grand larceny, a class C felony that carries as much as 15 years in prison if convicted.
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