Imagine $170,000. Now imagine that much in quarters and nickels and dimes.
That's how much money Alexandria police say William J. Fell stole, canister by canister, from his job as a parking meter repairman over about a year.
After becoming suspicious, police searched his Stafford County home last week. And hit the jackpot. They found much of the booty there -- in a bucket, in rolls and in a cup, court documents said.
"It's pretty bold," Sgt. Shahram Fard, who oversees the city's property crimes unit, said yesterday. "I've never recovered that much money in a search warrant."
The 61-year-old city employee did it, police say, by going to work at 3 a.m., well before his shift started. He would jump in his city truck and, under the cover of darkness, empty into bags the contents of coin canisters from parking meters all over Old Town, according to court documents.
Then he would drive back to his personal car, stash the bags in his trunk and go about his normal workday fixing meters, a search warrant affidavit said.
By the time police caught up with him, his house looked a bit like a Las Vegas casino, documents show. There were coins in cups, coins in canisters, coins in a silver box. Police said they found paper money in a safe and in zip-lock bags. They also found the top of a parking meter in the house.
Fell, who worked for the city for 16 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.
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