City employee pleads guilty to stealing from parking meters
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Days after city employee, Lawrence Charles, pleaded guilty to stealing from city of Buffalo parking meters, a second man has entered a similar plea.
James Bagarozzo, 57, was convicted Thursday in federal court of stealing $210,000 over an eight-year period.
The City of Buffalo tipped off the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office last year after noticing discrepancies in their revenues.
"We were quite frankly surprised at the amount of revenue that was being impacted by the activities of Mr. Bagarozzo and Mr. Charles," said Chris Piehota, FBI Special Agent in Charge.
The judge required Bagarozzo to pay back the city. $54,000 seized from his home during his arrest will be forfeited, and U.S. Attorney William Hochul says he could lose his home also.
“He also admitted in his plea paperwork that an additional $100,000 should be forfeited to the government. That money represents the value of his house," said Hochul.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Bagarozzo started working as a parking meter mechanic in 2003 and intentionally damaged more than 75 parking meters to steal quarters. He then deposited the quarters at a local bank in 500 dollar increments. But the FBI says the bank is not at fault.
"He could have been a soda machine vendor. He could have been someone who dealt in coinage as his primary currency, so the bank did not question," said Piehota.
Prosecutors say it appeared Bagarozzo and Charles did not work together.
Hochul says he hopes the convictions send a message.
"Whether you're a public employee or one who works for a private business, it's basic decency, please do not steal from your employers," said Hochul.
Bagarozzo will be sentenced in December. He faces up to ten years in prison.