Former City of Buffalo Employee Sentenced for Stealing Thousands of Dollars from Parking meters
BUFFALO, N.Y.-- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Franklin Lopez, 34, of Buffalo, N.Y., who was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from the City of Buffalo, a Governmental agency which receives federal funding, was sentenced to 12 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The defendant was also ordered to pay $69,000 in restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O'Donnell, who handled the case, stated that the defendant was employed part time as a coin collector in the City of Buffalo Department of Parking Enforcement between 2002 and 2011. In this capacity, Lopez was responsible for collecting coins deposited into parking meters.
“This investigation demonstrated that what began as thefts of nickels and dimes, in the end cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “In fact, since these defendants were removed from their positions, the City of Buffalo has seen an increase of over $700,000 in parking meter revenues. Let this case serve as a warning that we will continue to pursue any official who violates a duty to the public.”
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 and cash payments for a variety of items. Between November 2002 and August 2011, Lopez stole approximately $69,000 from city parking meters.
Lopez is the fourth employee of the Department of Parking Enforcement to be convicted and sentenced in this case. James Bagarozzo was convicted of stealing over $200,000 from Buffalo parking meters and sentenced to 30 months in prison. 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. Francis Tronolone was convicted of stealing $9,000 in coins from city parking meters and was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay $9,000 in restitution. The amount of money proven to be stolen by these convicted defendants exceeds $300,000.The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part Special Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda.