Revere reveres old-school tactics

What happens in Revere, stays in Revere.

At least until you get arrested, at which time whatever “it” is moves to Chelsea, specifically Chelsea District Court.

That’s the situation two allegedly sticky-fingered hacks, I mean public servants, formerly on the payroll of Revere City Hall, find themselves in this week.

Please, try not to let what I’m about to tell you destroy your faith in the rock-ribbed integrity of Revere city government.

According to the district attorney, a guy named Michael Amentola, the city’s water and sewer billing supervisor, is due in court Friday to answer charges of larceny over $1,200 by a single scheme – to wit, he was selling outdoor-water meters, the kind you use so you won’t be charged MWRA sewerage fees for watering your yard, or garden, or filling up a pool.

Amentola’s alleged grift was quite simple. If you called his department to buy a meter, Amentola would invite you to stop by his office at City Hall, “sometimes after working hours,” as the cops wryly noted. He would then tell the citizens (or non-citizens, this being Revere) that the transaction would have to be… in cash.

You would think that in 2019 no one could possibly fall for such an antiquated racket. Cash! But this is Revere, where for generations, most of the salesmen going door to door have had to wear gloves, because everything they’re peddling is so hot. This scam gives a whole new meaning to the term, hot water meter.

The cops claim Amentola unloaded at least 16 of the pilfered meters for between $100 and $150 cash. Another 18 were sold on the level. Eighty-four have gone missing. It’s Revere, baby, rhymes with Severe.

The bigger recent theft at Revere City Hall, though, involves parking meters. You heard me right, parking meters. Some things never change, especially if they involve change.

Remember all the “Quartergate” scandals around here over the years  — at Boston City Hall and at the MBTA (where the current mayor of Revere, Brian Arrigo, used to be on the payroll).

Most places, public and private, have long since stopped taking change. Even cash is largely discouraged, for obvious reasons.

But Revere is old school – and anyway, who can resist stuffing one’s pockets with quarters, for fun and profit, mostly profit?

Parking-meter revenues began declining in Revere a few years back. The former mayor, Dan Rizzo, who’s running again against Arrigo this year, removed some of the meters around City Hall. And then there was the winter of ’15, the snowiest and coldest on record. Traffic was way down for months.

But the bottom really fell out of collections after Arrigo became mayor in 2016. Here are the city’s deposited parking meter revenues month by month for fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

FY 2017: July: zero. Aug: $4,538. Sept.: zero. Oct.: zero. Nov.: zero. Dec.: zero. Jan.: zero. Feb.: zero. March: zero. April: zero. May: $6,734. June: $1,626.

Do you begin to detect a pattern here? Nobody at Revere City Hall did, apparently.

FY 2018: July: $2,197. Aug.: zero. Sept: zero. Oct: zero. Nov.: zero. Dec.: zero. Jan: zero. Feb.: zero. March: zero. April: zero. May: $4,950. June: $4,360.

Now, if you had a revenue stream that you were counting on for maybe $10-15,000 a month, how long do you suppose it would take you to notice that it had totally dried up for 18 of 24 months?

If you said no time whatsoever, you obviously don’t work at Revere City Hall.

The payroll patriot in charge of emptying the Revere parking meters was one Derek Paradis. He’s due in Chelsea District Court Wednesday. Two months ago, Revere police charged him with larceny of over $250 — $1,377 to be precise, which seems awfully low, doesn’t it?

According to the police report, Paradis had an overnight job at MIT, and only worked part time as the city’s parking-meter collector. At one point, a freelance investigator staked out Paradis’ house for a week:

“(Paradis) would get home around 7:20 am.  During the week of surveillance, he would see Mr. Paradis return to his home around 7:20 and not leave the residence again for the entire day… On Friday Mr. Paradis only left his residence to go to City Hall and pick up his pay check.”

How Revere is that? City Hall apparently doesn’t believe in direct deposit either. I told you they were old school.

Mayor Arrigo’s administration claims everything is on the up and up now, and that the city has actually taken the unprecedented step of depositing all those quarters again. This marvelous turnaround occurred after someone got the idea to conduct an actual… audit.

Hey, better late than never.

Seriously, though, who knew these kinds of retro scams were still being worked anywhere anymore? But this is Revere, the land that time forgot, where they still have clam inspectors on the city payroll. Where they used to have a ginmill on the beach called the Ebbtide Lounge — the first shot was on the house and after that you had to use your own bullets.

I once spent a morning in federal court at the trial of a local Revere sportsman named Cueball (or maybe it was Sonny Boy). I watched as one Revere police detective after another took the Fifth Amendment. I thought that golden era was over, but I was misinformed.

What did they used to say about the Windy City? Chicago ain’t ready for reform.

Revere ain’t ready for reform either.

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