Prosecutors said 40 year old Lawrence Charles began working as a parking meter mechanic for the City. In this capacity, Charles was responsible for repairing defective parking meter machines, but was not authorized to collect any money deposited into the machines. They said he rigged parking meters to make the money easier to access and steal.
In 2011, the City of Buffalo's Department of Parking Enforcement initiated a review of parking meters after suspecting that quarters were being stolen from the meters. This review determined that the metal guides that direct the quarters into the lower compartment of the meters were damaged resulting in some quarters remaining in the upper compartment. This made the quarters accessible to the mechanics who otherwise would not have had access to the coins. Subsequently, video surveillance was conducted which showed that the defendant stole quarters from the meters on a daily basis.
Charles was arrested in December 2011 along with another employee who was also employed a parking meter mechanic. Similar charges against that employee are pending