09/11/2012 06:27 pm ET Updated Sep 11, 2012

James Bagarozzo, Larry Charles Plead Guilty To Stealing Thousands In Quarters From Parking Meters

They wanted to change their lives, and they needed change to do it.

Two parking meter repairmen from Buffalo, N.Y. have pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from local meters over a period of eight years.

James Bagarozzo pleaded guilty last week to damaging more than 75 meters between 2003 and 2011, pocketing over $200,000 in quarters. His co-worker, Larry Charles, had previously pleaded guilty to stealing $15,000 from meters between 2007 and 2011.

Bagarozzo and Charles were first charged in December 2011. Authorities said the pair rigged the machines so that quarters collected in the top, where they were easy to get, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Buffalo Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer first got wind of the coin scam when he noticed a big discrepancy in the amount of money the city's new computerized pay stations were bringing in compared with the older quarter-fed parking meters.

About 128 computerized stations covering 1,300 parking spots took in nearly $100,000 per month, while1,200 older meters serving the same number of spots brought in $only 15,000 to $20,000 a month, WIVB-TV reported.

A private investigator videotaped and used GPS surveillance on the suspected employees.

Charles was seen stealing up to $147 worth of coins each day over a 32-day period, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said Bagarozzo stored the stolen quarters in bags in his car or in his pants pockets, and used the money to pay for personal expenses for himself and family members, WBFO-TV reported.

Bagarozzo, who worked for the city for around 30 years, could face up to 10 years in prison. Charles has agreed to a plea bargain that specifies a prison sentence of six to 12 months and paying $15,000 in restitution.

Both men were immediately suspended without pay following their arrests and have now been formally dismissed.




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