The top parking enforcement official in Upper Darby, a township just north of Philadelphia, has been charged with stealing more than $4,000 in coins from area parking kiosks, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer this week.
Sekela Tamika Coles, 45, admitted taking hundreds of coins and using them to pay for parties, dinners and gifts, the report said. She was charged Monday with felony theft and receiving stolen property.
Prosecutors said she relied on an assistant to deposit the coins into her personal bank account instead of the town’s.
Before taking over parking enforcement in 2020, Coles served on the Upper Darby council for six years, and is credited by the township with “modernizing” the parking agency by installing the new kiosks she is accused of plundering.
According to the report, as all of this was going on, Coles is accused of “allowing the parking enforcement system in the township to languish for more than two years by failing to send 18,000 parking tickets through to Pennsylvania’s court system” — as well as deleting tickets issued to her children and ex-husband.
Officials described it as “complete and utter incompetency,” the Inquirer reported.
Altogether, the lapse in collection resulted in roughly $1 million in fines never being collected, the report said.
Coles grew nervous her scheme would be uncovered as more kiosks were installed, according to Stollsteimer, and she directed her assistant to send back a couple thousand dollars to the township tax office to try to make the numbers less suspicious.