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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 19, 2013

third city of buffalo employee guilty of stealing thousands of dollars from parking meters

        BUFFALO, N.Y.-- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Francis Tronolone, 33, of Buffalo, N.Y., pleaded guilty to 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.

“Today’s developments mean that three different employees of the same City Department have now been convicted of collectively stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the residents of this area,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “These crimes occurred day in and day out over many months and years. This Office will continue to pursue this investigation until all who may have abused their positions are identified and caught.”  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O'Donnell, who is handling the case, stated that from November 2003 to the present, the defendant was employed as a coin collector and later a parking meter mechanic in the City of Buffalo Department of Parking Enforcement. In this capacity, Tronolone was responsible for collecting coins deposited into parking meters and repairing malfunctioning meters.

During the period of his employment, the defendant stole approximately $9,000 in coins from city parking meters, money that was supposed to be deposited into the city treasury. Some of the money was stolen from parking meters that had been rigged by other parking meter mechanics. Tronolone kept a small cooler in the back of his vehicle where he would conceal the stolen coins.  

Tronolone is the third employee of the Department of Parking Enforcement to be convicted 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 was sentenced to six months and prison and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution. A fourth employee, Franklin Lopez, is charged also charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the City of Buffalo, a Governmental agency which receives federal funding. 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.

The plea is 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.