LAWRENCE — Felix Matos has worked out of the cramped and battered booths at city parking lots for seven years, handing time-stamped tickets to drivers as they enter, collecting payment as they leave and delivering the cash to the Museum Square garage for deposit into a locked box at the end of every day.
That routine allegedly was reversed on April 10, when investigators say another parking attendant in charge of collections at the Museum Square garage visited Matos in a city parking lot at 200 Essex St. and handed him a yellow envelope that an affidavit suggests was filled with cash that had been collected at the garage.
On June 6, state police charged the garage employee, Justo Garcia, with skimming thousands of dollars from collections at the garage, including the undisclosed amount they say was in the envelope he handed Matos.
Garcia has been reassigned to a maintenance job in the Department of Public Works pending a directive from Mayor William Lantigua about his status, DPW Chief John Isensee said.
But Matos has not been charged in the alleged thefts and was in his booth at the Essex Street parking lot every day last week, collecting the cash-only payments — as a sign at the garage states — from drivers. The lot is a block from City Hall and next door to Lantigua’s newly opened campaign headquarters.
Matos says he has done nothing wrong.
“No. Nunca,” Matos said from behind the streaked window of his booth last week when asked if he ever received money from Garcia. He said he knows Garcia only as a “compañero trabajo” — a colleague from work.
“You’re looking for Justo, not me,” Matos said, switching to English and then ending the interview.
Matos is mentioned just once in the 13 pages of the affidavit describing Garcia’s alleged thefts from the Museum Square garage that state police Sgt. Barry Brodette filed in Superior Court on June 6, just after Garcia was arrested outside City Hall.