2 arrested in scheme to divert AstraZeneca funds to home improvements

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Two men have been arrested for theft and conspiracy charges after allegedly using AstraZeneca funds to pay for $400,000 in improvements to a Hockessin home.

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Special Investigations Unit determined that Mitchell Guard, 45, a Project Engineer for AstraZeneca’s Fairfax location, and David Ragolia, 55, a foreman for the DiSabatino Construction Co. and on-site manager for its work at AstraZeneca location, conspired to direct money to home improvements at Guard’s Hockessin home.

“Stealing is a crime with damaging consequences, whether the victim is an individual or a company, and we’re acting to ensure that everyone obeys the law,” Attorney General Beau Biden said in a release announcing the arrest.

The Attorney General’s Office opened its investigation after receiving a report last year from AstraZeneca regarding financial transactions.

During that time, DiSabatino Construction and AstraZeneca had worked under a Master Services Agreement, with DiSabatino serving as the sole source contractor for construction at the AstraZeneca Fairfax campus.

Guard initiated construction projects on-site through Ragolia, who assigned the work to DeSabatino employees and sub-contractors.

The investigation revealed that Ragolia, of Bear, instructed DiSabatino employees and other subcontractors to make home improvements to the Guard residence over a period of time, and that DiSabatino employees and sub-contractors were assigned to work full-time at the residence from March, 2010 through July, 2010 to complete the work.

The home improvements included a kitchen renovation, the addition of a sunroom and 3-car garage, basement finishing, installation of new siding and windows, painting, and the purchase and installation of an HVAC unit, appliances, and bath fixtures.

Upon the completion of their work to the Guard residence, investigators learned that Ragolia directed subcontractors to submit their receipts and invoices to DiSabatino Construction Company. The investigation also revealed that Ragolia, in turn, submitted invoices for the materials and the labor performed at Guard’s residence to AstraZeneca.

In all, more than $400,000 in improvements performed at Guard’s residence were billed to and ultimately paid by the pharmaceutical manufacturer before the scam was discovered.

As a result of the investigation, arrest warrants were issued, charging both men with one count of Theft of more than $100,000 and Conspiracy. Both defendants turned themselves in to investigators at the Attorney General’s Office on February 22.

After being arraigned in JP Court #20, both men were released on $6,000 unsecured bond.

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