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City employee pleads guilty to parking meter thefts

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WBFO News file photo
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A city worker admitted to stealing thousands of dollars worth of quarters from parking meters. 

40-year-old Lawrence Charles of Buffalo appeared in Federal Court Tuesaday to plead guilty to the theft of $15,000 between 2007 and 2011. 

Several months ago Charles and co-worker James Bagarozzo were charged with the parking meter thefts. 

"This kind of conduct simply won't be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul.

Charles was responsible for repairing broken city parking meters.  But Hochul said he would "systematically" steal quarters during his shift.

"Rather than doing that job, he rigged the machines so that the money would flow to an easier to access area. He  would pocket the quarters for himself, and still on city time, would drive around collecting from all the meters that he was suppose to be fixing," said Hochul.

When Judge Richard Arcara asked Charles why he did it? 

Charles told the court quote "it was me being foolish and stupid" because "I needed the extra money."

In his plea agreement, Charles has agreed to pay restitution. 

Charles now faces six-months to one-year in jail.  He will be sentenced in December. 

Bagarozzo is accused of stealing nearly $210,000 from parking meters over eight-years is scheduled for a plea hearing this Thursday.