CHARDON, OHIO - Robert R. Vargo, former controller of Sajar Plastics Inc., was sentenced Feb. 13 for embezzling more than half a million dollars from the Middlefield, Ohio-based injection molding firm. Geauga County Common Pleas Judge Hans F. Interlied Jr., sentenced Vargo, who now lives in Sandusky, Ohio, to four to 15 years in prison, and ordered him to pay $527,000 in restitution to the company.
Vargo pleaded guilty last year to aggravated theft charges in connection to his tenure at the custom injection molding firm, where he supposedly was overseeing its downsizing and restructuring.
Geauga County prosecutor David Joyce said since Vargo pleaded guilty, it is not likely that he could appeal the sentence.
``The judge, when he imposed the sentence, emphasized that the severity of the crime was heightened by the fact that Mr. Vargo took advantage of the workers and management at the company during a period when there was great confusion and chaos,'' Joyce said in an interview in Chardon, the Geauga County seat.
Sajar hired Vargo in 1991, and the following year embarked on a downsizing effort that cut employment from 488 to 145, and sold half the company's 40 injection molding lines.
In 1993, the firm elevated Vargo to the post as controller, with complete control over all company finances. It was during this period that he used $527,000 of the company's money to renovate his home and buy several boats and autos. Auditors discovered the deception in October 1994, when they found a company check that had been converted to a cashier's check and then used to purchase oneof the boats.
Despite the embezzlement, Sajar has managed to stay afloat, according to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Bergen.
``We were adequately covered by insurance for the thefts,'' he said. ``We are in the final stages of clearing it with the insurance companies, and then they will have to deal with Vargo for the restitution.''
Bergen said the company should show a marginal profit for 1994, and that future orders are good, stimulating hopes for even better business this year. Part of the reason is a shift in product lines, from making parts for the appliance industry to working in the computer and business machine sector.
Sajar reported sales of $15.7 million in 1993.
``We were pleased with the Vargo sentence,'' Bergen said. ``And we are settling into this new market.''