TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Thefts of parking coins in Buffalo form 'major bank heist'

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

BUFFALO — From the moment parking meter mechanic James Bagarozzo began his scheme to steal from the machines, his life became overrun with quarters. He stashed them in his pockets, in a sack in his truck and in closets at his house.

Over more than eight years, he brought home $210,000 worth of quarters — 10,500 pounds of them — which he dutifully rolled and packed in $500 boxes to be exchanged for cash at banks on his lunch hour.

On Friday, a judge imposed a more than 2-year sentence on Bagarozzo, who blamed a gambling addiction and an illness he believed would kill him before he built a nest egg for his family.

“With all its problems, the last thing the city of Buffalo needs is employees who don't do what they're paid to do,” U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara said as he rejected a defense plea for home confinement or community service.

From 2003 through 2011, the meter mechanic spent the first half of every workday stealing from 70 to 75 meters, prosecutors said. Rather than fix machines, he broke them so that quarters would collect on top where he could grab them with his hands instead of dropping into the collection canister.

Bagarozzo, speaking purposely but with little emotion, apologized during a brief statement to the court.

“I have hit rock bottom, and I have had to come up with my family and friends,” the 58-year-old said.

A former co-worker, Lawrence Charles, followed Bagarozzo's lead, stealing $15,000 in quarters over about five years, prosecutors said. He was expected to get six months to a year in prison. His sentencing was postponed.

The employees came under scrutiny in 2011 when Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer noticed the city's new computerized pay stations were bringing in far more money than the old quarter-fed parking meters.

“What may have begun as a theft of nickels and dimes, in the end was the equivalent of a major bank heist,” U.S. Attorney William Hochul said.

Since the arrests, the city's annual parking meter revenue has increased by more than $500,000, Helfer said.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. ‘Patriots’ back Nevada rancher; Reid labels them ‘domestic terrorists’
  2. Health care law enrollee passwords at risk for Heartbleed Internet security flaw, feds warn
  3. IRS, other agencies award contracts to license plate tracking company
  4. Del Taco customers mistakenly charged thousands for fast-food meals
  5. Supreme Court voids overall contribution limits to political candidates
  6. Rural Texas town where fertilizer plant exploded to consider fostering new facility
  7. Fox fires exec who used email to plan aid
  8. Drug crime reclassification to help ex-cons get vote rights
  9. First date in New Jersey ends with him pilfering her TV and Yorkshire terrier
  10. Ohio couple married for 70 years dies just 15 hours apart
  11. Mauling puts bears back on firing line in Central Florida
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.