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Man, woman allegedly posed as Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank volunteers to steal cash

PITTSBURGH — A man and woman are facing charges after being caught on camera trying to solicit fraudulent donations for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank on the North Shore during Pittsburgh’s Rib Fest on Labor Day.

Pittsburgh Police filed felony charges against William Roberson and Diane Plymire on Friday.

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“It’s just good to be able to see some form of resolution to it,” said Ronnell Hunt, a communications specialist for Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “To be able to hear that charges have been pressed against them and see that police have continued to work with us, is a huge sigh of relief for us.”

Hunt was at Rib Fest and caught the pair in the act and confronted them.

He knew they weren’t legitimate because the food bank only collects cash donations once a year, around Christmastime.

“They were very confident although they knew from the jump that I worked with the food bank. They were like, ‘Hey, we’re volunteering, this money goes directly to you guys,’ and that wasn’t the case whatsoever. We have no receipts of that,” Hunt said.

Hunt’s sister captured the interaction on video and it was key in identifying Roberson and Plymire.

Hunt sent the video to Food Bank management and someone recognized them.

“That’s when she saw the picture and said, ‘Oh no, I know exactly who they are because I ran into them at an event in the past.’ Just being able to talk to different employees who said, ‘I saw them there, I saw them there,’” Hunt said.

It turned out, the pair had allegedly been collecting fraudulent donations since around 2018, according to the food bank.

Pittsburgh Police estimate Roberson and Plymire have collected more than $2,000 at various events around the city.

“Donations to us now mean more than anything. We can’t get donations if someone goes about it that way and the funds never come back to us,” Hunt said.

According to Hunt, the best way to donate to the food bank is on its website.

If you’d like to help collect donations for the food bank, Hunt asks that you contact the food bank and they can help arrange something.

At last check, Roberson and Plymire have not yet been taken into custody.

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