City Employees Accused of Stealing from Parking Meters

December 13, 2011 Updated Dec 13, 2011 at 10:02 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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December 13, 2011 Updated Dec 13, 2011 at 10:02 AM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from parking meters in Buffalo. Now, city employees hired to fix the meters are being accused of the crime.

James Bagarozzo, 56, and Lawrence Charles, 39, are under arrest. Federal officials said the two were repairmen in the City's Parking Enforcement Department.

Bagarozzo is accused of taking more than $200 thousand from the meters over an eight-year period. Agents also found $40,000 in the ceiling of his bathroom. Charles is accused of taking more than $3,000 in a one-month period and more money over a two-year period.

"It's very frustrating. You would like to think this kind of corruption doesn't happen. What I will tell you is what I told you over and over, it will not be tolerated," Kevin Helfter with City of Buffalo said.

Helfer said he was tipped off a year ago to the thefts. Both workers knew what the other was doing. They are now suspended without pay pending a hearing. The men can also lose their jobs depending on the outcome of the hearing.

They face a maximum of ten years in jail and a $250 thousand fine.