Parking agent accused of extortion for free food

Police arrested a Hoboken Parking Utility employee on Theft by Extortion and Official Misconduct charges.

November 5, 2010 2:49:41 PM PDT
On Park Avenue in Hoboken, the meter readers are out and the sandwiches are piled high.

Over the past several months, the two worlds collided in an alleged extortion plot that can only be described as bizarre.

"It was pretty simple. You feed me and I won't give you any tickets," Sgt. Sam Williams said.

Williams says Kleber Vera, a meter reader in town, was shaking down Zuberu Bawa, a delivery man for Luca Brasi's deli.

Police say that Vera approached Bawa and told him, "If you don't charge me for any sandwiches from Luca Brasi's, I won't give you any tickets."

Bawa did this for a month, but eventually told Vera the deal was off.

That's when police say Vera hit Bawa with 30 tickets over 3 months.

Bawa went to a parking supervisor named Jackie, only to get another visit and another threat.

Police say Vera warned Bawa, "I heard you're talking to Jackie... It's going to keep happening."

Finally, Bawa called police, Vera was arrested and charged with theft by extortion and official misconduct.

At Vera's home, his mother opened the door and then closed it quickly, but defended her son.

"He's a good kid. He's a good kid," she said.

Vera has been employed by the HPU since February, and has two prior arrests.

He was released on $35,000 bail and suspended without pay.

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