BUFFALO, N.Y., Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A Buffalo, N.Y., parking meter mechanic may get 30 months in prison after admitting Thursday he stole $210,000 in quarters from city meters.
James Bagarozzo, 57, agreed to a plea bargain before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara in Buffalo that could send him to federal prison for up to 30 months for being one of two mechanics accused of stealing money from the meters they were supposed to be fixing, The Buffalo News reported.
Bagarozzo and Lawrence Charles both pleaded guilty to the felony charge of theft and conversion concerning groups receiving federal funds. Charles admitted stealing $15,000 in quarters as part of his plea agreement with the court, the News said.
Bagarozzo said he took the money because he had a gambling problem that had him going to a casino three or four times a week that stemmed from his battle with Crohn's disease, which he feared would leave him unable to work.
"I wanted to make sure my family was going to be OK," Bagarozzo said of his illness in court.
Bagarozzo would be required to repay the $210,000 he admitted stealing by the time he is sentenced Dec. 17, his lawyer, James Harrington, said.
Bagarozzo's pilfering was discovered after Kevin Helfer, the city's parking enforcement commissioner, noticed a big difference in revenue collected from the city's 1,200 old-fashioned parking meters and revenue collected from the newer pay-and-display coinless parking meters.