larceny for allegedly pocketing money from his church’s offering nine
times complained to police officers after his arrest that the church was
not paying him enough, a prosecutor said in court Tuesday.
Daniel Impaglia, who pastors the Evangelical Rock Church on the Upper
East Side and was arrested in November 2015, is still leading services
at the church despite calls from some church elders that he step down
after members caught him on hidden camera repeatedly stealing from
a faction in the church want him to resign from his position, he has
refused to do so and showed up the following week to conduct church
an attempt to change the church’s bylaws and even barred some of the
church’s board members who want him ousted from attending the meeting.
Impaglia proposed a change that would have allowed current church board
members to chose future board members, a move that opponents claim is
designed to give Impaglia more control at the church.
congregants who want Impaglia removed from the church for his alleged
thievery and misuse of church funds attempted to enter the sanctuary
during the meeting but met resistance in the lobby.
A man named
Floyd Johnson, one of Impaglia’s friends who is also a preacher at a
church in Brooklyn, acted as a make-shift security guard blocking the
door that leads into the sanctuary.
When congregants Sue Cruz,
Joseph McGee and Prasad Venigalla, the church’s current board director,
tried to enter past Johnson, he wouldn’t let them enter without
instigating a shoving match between Impaglia’s supporters and opponents.
a few minutes of tussling in the lobby, churchgoers were finally able
to enter the sanctuary, confronted Impaglia, called for his ousting and
protested his proposed bylaw amendment.
The confrontation between
churchgoers and the pastor turned into a large shouting match, where
Impaglia ripped the microphone out of one of his opponent’s hands.
“You’re not authorized! This is not a valid meeting,” Venigalla yelled at the pastor.
the initial shoving match in the church lobby, at least eight police
officers were called to the church to restore peace, but no one was
“I thought he would have a little bit of shame,” one church board member told a local NBC station.
“It’s not like we are suspecting theft, we have videotape of him
actually stealing the money and putting the money in his pocket.”
shameful because this is a church, but we are not going to have wolves
in sheep’s clothing running the show and abusing the sheep,” the board
Venigalla and other congregants have been in the
midst of a two-year-long civil lawsuit against the pastor on the grounds
that he misused church funds. The judge refuses to let the church fire
the pastor, even after he was caught stealing and was criminally charged
Board members became suspicious that Impaglia was
stealing from the church after he was hospitalized for three weeks.
During his three week absence, board members claim that donations from
their Sunday and Tuesday collections nearly tripled.
then set up a hidden camera in the church office to catch Impaglia in
the act. The footage showed that Impaglia repeatedly went into the
church office and pocketed cash from offering envelopes.