Third City of Buffalo Employee Charged With Stealing Thousands From Parking Meters

September 13, 2013 Updated Sep 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Third City of Buffalo Employee Charged With Stealing Thousands From Parking Meters

September 13, 2013 Updated Sep 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (release) - Franklin Lopez, 33, of Buffalo, New York, has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the City of Buffalo, a Governmental agency which receives federal funding. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O'Donnell, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was employed part time as a coin collector for in the City of Buffalo Department of Parking Enforcement between 2003 and 2011. In this capacity, Lopez was responsible collecting coins deposited into parking meters.

According to the complaint, on August 16, 2011, Buffalo Police found over $1,300 in coins inside the defendant's work vehicle, money that was supposed to be deposited into the city treasury. Further investigation, including a review of Lopez's banking records, revealed a substantial amount of cash deposits. In addition, the defendant made significant cash payments, including a $10,000 down payment on a car and the purchase of two boats, a jet ski and a moped. The complaint further stated that other employees of the department were aware of the defendant's actions.

Lopez will have an initial appearance this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. before U.S Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.

Lopez is the third employee of the Department of Parking Enforcement to be charged in this case. James Bagarozzo was convicted of stealing over $200,000 from Buffalo parking meters and sentenced to 30 months in prison on August 16, 2013. Bagarozzo was also ordered to pay $210,000 in restitution. Lawrence Charles has also been convicted of stealing over $10,000 from Buffalo parking meters and is awaiting sentencing.

The arrests are the culmination of an investigation on the part Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Boetig and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.