City Employees Caught Stealing Over $300,000 from Parking Meters

Originally published on October 19, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Four employees from Buffalo’s Department of Parking Enforcement have been convicted of stealing over $300,000 in coins from the city’s parking meters over the course of almost a decade. The FBI began investigating the city employees after Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer noticed Buffalo’s new computerized pay stations were collecting nearly ten times the amount of money brought in from the old quarter-fed parking meters. The employees have been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay back all of the money that prosecutors were able to prove they stole.

In 2011, Parking Commissioner Helfer realized the city’s new computerized stations were bringing in roughly $100,000 per month, while the older meters were only collecting $15,000 to $20,000 per month. About 128 computerized stations covering approximately 1,300 parking spots collected $100,000 each month, while roughly 1,200 older parking meters only brought in up to $20,000 per month.

On August 16, 2011, Buffalo Police discovered over $1,300 in coins hidden inside Franklin Lopez’s work vehicle. Employed part time as a coin collector for Buffalo’s Department of Parking Enforcement between 2002 and 2011, Lopez was responsible for collecting money deposited into parking meters. Instead of depositing the coins into the city treasury, Lopez made numerous cash deposits and cash payments for various items. Between November 2002 and August 2011, Lopez stole over $69,000 from Buffalo’s parking meters. On Thursday, Lopez was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay $69,000 in restitution.

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Police Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Disconnecting Camera and Beating Handcuffed Man

Originally published on September 29, 2014, at NationofChange.org

After 18 years on the force, a New York police sergeant has resigned and pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law for beating a handcuffed man inside the Fulton police station. After pulling the video camera out of the wall, Sgt. Joseph Arigo beat the handcuffed man then lied to his supervisors and filed two false reports to cover up his actions. Arigo had originally been charged with third-degree assault, making a punishable false written statement, and falsifying business records.

Gary Bloss was arrested the night of June 28 on a parole warrant. Taken to the Fulton police station, Bloss sat on a bench in the booking room with his hands cuffed behind his back yelling at the cops. Although Bloss did not threaten any of the officers or himself, Sgt. Arigo disconnected the video camera before entering the room. Bloss recalled arguing with Arigo when the 18-year veteran began choking the handcuffed man and punching him repeatedly in the face.

Arigo slammed Bloss’ head into the bench and continued punching him in the face. As Arigo started choking Bloss again, Officer Sean Hanks quietly fled from the booking room.

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War on Truth Part 2: Jeremy Hammond Needs Your Help

Originally published on November 13, 2013 at WeAreChange.org

Continued from Part 1: The War on Truth: Jeremy Hammond Political Prisoner

At Jeremy Hammond’s bail hearing last year, Judge Loretta Preska denied bail claiming he was more dangerous than a sexual predator. There are no pending charges against Jeremy for violence or sexual misconduct. Yet Judge Preska has accused him of committing worse deeds.

Judge Preska is also presiding over Hector “Sabu” Monsegur’s case. His sentencing has been postponed several times due to his continuing work as an active FBI informant. A few minutes before the FBI raided Barrett Brown’s home, someone with the screen name “Sabu” entered the chat, presumably to monitor Brown and other members of Anonymous.

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