Four US traffic wardens have been fired after a parking-for-pizza scam they ran with a local restaurant was rumbled, according to Salt Lake City council.

The parking enforcement officers are alleged to have enjoyed two years of free pizza at Sicilia Pizza in the downtown area of the city in return for not ticketing the restaurant owner or his employees.

One of the employees broke ranks to talk to KUTV. He estimated that the team could have ticketed restaurant staff around three times a day – the equivalent of $19,000 (£13,600) worth of fines.

The officer, Jeff Clegg, explained how the system worked, saying: "If I see a menu of the restaurant in the lower left hand corner of the vehicle, it is either an employee or the owner's [of the restaurant] vehicle and we are not to cite those vehicles."

Clegg claimed that he and his colleagues were on first-name terms with staff at the restaurant and that it even "got to the point that we just go in the back and get what we want, so we would go behind the counter and get our own pizza".

In return, Sicilia Pizza owner owner Amrol Hararah and his staff would never get a parking ticket on the street outside.

Salt Lake City Director of Public Service Lisa Shaffer said that Harrah complained to the city about two parking tickets he received after the officers had been removed from their positions, according to The Salt Lake City Tribune.

Salt Lake City Downtown
Salt Lake City Downtown Flickr

He reportedly emailed Shaffer stating he should't have received a ticket, because "he had developed a relationship with enforcement officers".

The restaurant owner now denies that there ever was a deal. Three of the officers who were dismissed are appealing the decision.

The case was sent up to the Unified Police Department for possible criminal charges, but none were forthcoming.

"We don't know why they declined to press criminal charges, but our two investigations found sufficient [evidence] to terminate their employment," a spokesman for the mayor told the Tribune.