Man admits to trying to extort the Philadelphia Parking Authority

Parking Authority.
RIKARD LARMA/METRO

A Philadelphia man has pleaded guilty to trying to extort money from the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Rocco Martinez, 30, was accused of trying to sell the agency a purported tape of a parking enforcement officer accepting a bribe. He entered a guilty plea to the charge of extortion using interstate communication.

Federal prosecutors said Martinez first contacted PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty by e-mail claiming to have a video recording of a PPA officer offering to remove a ticket in exchange for a gift. Fenerty then contacted the city’s inspector general.

In a phone conversation, Martinez described the contents of the video to Fenerty, but when Fenerty asked for a copy to investigate the allegations, Martinez said he wanted money in return, claiming that media outlets were willing to pay for the video, according to the indictment. Fenerty told Martinez it would be illegal for a government agency to pay for evidence, but the conversation ended without a resolution.

In a follow-up discussion, which was recorded by the FBI, Fenerty confirmed that Martinez was looking for money in exchange for the video. The two later met, Martinez showed Fenerty the video and they negotiated a price of $500 and Martinez agreed to delete the video from his computer hard drive.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12. He faces up to two years in prison.


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