MIDDLEFIELD, OHIO-Robert R. Vargo, former controller at Sajar Plastics Inc., has pleaded guilty to aggravated theft for skimming more than $500,000 from the Middlefield custom injection molder as it struggled through a restructuring. Vargo, now living in Sandusky, Ohio, was hired in 1991. The following year, Sajar officials embarked on a downsizing effort that cut employment from 488 to 145 and halved the number of injection molding machines to 20.
Sajar promoted Vargo to controller in January 1993, giving him responsibility for all cash management.
From February 1993 through September 1994, Vargo stole $527,259 from Sajar, according to Middlefield Police Chief David Easthon. The money was used to renovate a home and a boat, and to buy another boat, a 1988 Jaguar and a 1991 Ford Explorer, police said.
A routine audit last October spurred the investigation. The audit turned up a company check that had been converted to a cashier's check, which was traced to the boat purchase, Easthon said.
Vargo was indicted on the theft charge in mid-December, and he immediately pleaded guilty. Sentencing could take place in late January or early February in Geauga County Common Pleas Court. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $7,500, said David P. Joyce, Geauga County prosecutor.
Vargo's lawyer, Edward Rhode of Sandusky, could not be reached for comment.
Joseph A. Bergen, Sajar's president and chief executive officer, said Vargo was a trusted employee who took advantage of the situation during Sajar's restructuring.
Bergen said Sajar's insurance covered the costs and the company's comeback is continuing.