HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBS 2) — A Hoboken parking authority meter reader has been suspended without pay after police said he forced a deliveryman to give him free food in exchange for no tickets.
Deliveryman Zubera Bawa told police meter reader Kleber Vera Jr. was shaking him down for free sandwiches from his workplace — Luca Brasi’s Deli — ironically named after a mobster character in the Godfather movies.
“The driver was getting a lot of tickets so Mr. Vera approached him and said ‘let’s work out a deal’ — you give me free food, I’ll lay off the tickets,” Hoboken Police Sergeant Sam Williams told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.
According to a police report, Bawa spent a month giving Vera Jr. free food, but when he stopped, the 19-year-old meter reader threatened to give him more tickets “every chance I get.”
It all ended with police responding to an argument between the two. Police said Bawa spilled the beans to them.
“He’s a good kid,” Vera Jr.’s mother said denying the allegations against her son.
Some of the deli’s customers said they could understand why Vera Jr. may have been obsessed with the sandwiches.
“The sandwiches are fantastic. I love it. Forget about it — the best,” John Corbett said.
Others in the city — where a parking space is a hot commodity — were angry.
“It’s hard to park in this town,” Colleen Corbett said.
“You ride around for God knows how long to try to find a spot,” Patricia Cassano said.
Police now want to know if other deliverymen were also shaken down.
Vera Jr. faces extortion and official misconduct charges. If found guilty, he could spent up to 10 years behind bars.