If the allegations prove true, Kim Bacone, a former Philadelphia police officer, will go down in history as the anti-Robin Hood of Strawberry Mansion.
Instead of stealing from the rich to feed the poor, Bacone stole from the poor to line her own pockets, according to a criminal complaint filed in Chester County by Cheyney University police, where Bacone now works.
Bacone, 48, who was dismissed from the Philadelphia police force after a 2000 arrest for attempted shoplifting at the Cherry Hill Mall, was hired as a Cheyney police officer a few years ago.
But in at least three instances since January 2009, authorities say, Bacone took large quantities of potato chips, toothpaste and other goods from Philabundance - a nonprofit that provides free food to people in need - and sold them at cut-rate prices to Cheyney students. She has been suspended without pay.
Philabundance spokeswoman Marlo DelSordo said Bacone or her relatives obtained the items through Community Associates of Strawberry Mansion. That group was founded in the 1960s by Bacone's mother, Elizabeth Bacone, a North Philadelphia community activist who died of lung cancer in 2004.
Community Associates was supposed to give the food away, but, recently, it allegedly had been selling it, DelSordo said yesterday. Philabundance severed ties with Community Associates in October, after being contacted by police.
"It's the type of news that Philabundance never wants to hear. It rarely happens, but there are occasions when people don't do the right thing," DelSordo said. "It's just unthinkable for an agency to get food for free that's supposed to go to people in need and make a profit on it."
Reached by phone yesterday, Bacone denied that she sold the Philabundance goods on Cheyney's campus.
"I didn't even do nothing," she said. "It was not me selling the stuff."
Bacone said that her sister had an agreement with Cheyney to sell items as part of a health-awareness program, and that the items were purchased from a flea market, not taken from Philabundance. Cheyney officials could not be reached yesterday.
"Kids would say they need soap and toothpaste and stuff," Bacone said. "Officers were buying stuff; everybody was buying stuff."
Although Bacone denies any involvement in the transactions, the criminal complaint states that surveillance video "clearly shows" her carrying 30 large boxes into a dorm lobby with three other people and selling the merchandise.
A Cheyney student, a resident assistant at Tubman Hall and a Cheyney police officer each identified Bacone as one of the individuals involved, according to court documents.
Bacone believes the charges were filed in retaliation for an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint she filed against Cheyney's police chief.
"All of a sudden, I'm a bad person?" she asked. "You're all worried about somebody selling potato chips?"
Bacone's attorney, Brian McMonagle, declined to comment yesterday, other than to say he was trying to get her enrolled in a program for first-time offenders.