EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) _ A former transit worker who over 13 years pilfered $1.5 million in coins from collection boxes has been sentenced to four years in jail.

``This is thievery at a most staggering level,'' Judge Allan Wachowich said as he issued the sentence Monday.

The defendant, Salim Kara, built a $750,000 mansion with the coins he scooped out of fare boxes with narrow magnet-equipped rods while pretending to carry out his job as a transit maintenance man.

Kara deposited up to $7,500 a week in rolled coins, prosecutor Bill Pinckney said Monday. Bank employees did not suspect anything because Kara told them he ran a vending machine business.

He used the money to supplement his $28,000 salary and buy two cars, as well as his luxury home and property in British Columbia.

A transportation department audit of the collection boxes found the downtown machines showed significant shortages while others didn't.

Marked coins and surveillance of Kara's work lead to his arrest.