WASHINGTON – Imagine $170,000. Now imagine that much in quarters, dimes and nickels.
That’s how much money that police in suburban Alexandria, Va., say William Fell stole, canister by canister, from his job as a parking meter repairman over about a year.
After becoming suspicious, police searched his suburban Stafford County, Va., home last week. And hit the jackpot. They found much of the booty there – in buckets, rolls and zip-lock bags, they said.
Fell, 61, did it by going to work at 3 a.m., well before his shift started, police say. He would jump in his city truck and, under the cover of darkness, empty coin canisters from parking meters all over Old Town into bags, according to court documents.
Then he would drive back to his personal car, stash the bags in his trunk and go about his normal work day fixing meters.
By the time police caught up with him, his house looked a bit like a Las Vegas casino. There were coins in cups, coins in canisters, coins in a silver box. Police said they found coins in a safe, along with stacks of paper money. They also found the top of a parking meter.
Fell, who worked for the city for 17 years before his promotion in June in the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, faces two counts of embezzlement by a public officer and is being held at the city jail.
Last year, the city took in just over $1 million in revenue from its 1,040 parking meters, officials said. But they realized something was amiss. They had raised the rates to $1 an hour, but they weren’t bringing in more money.
A supervisor became suspicious of Fell and began following him during his morning rounds, watching him steal the cash, according to court documents. Alexandria officials called police, who hid a surveillance camera in his city truck, according to the documents.