Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing More than $700K in Fraud Scheme

Debra Biagi, 50, of Fogelsville, PA, formerly of Greenwich, waived her right to indictment and pleaded guilty on Friday before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer in New Haven to one count of wire fraud stemming from her theft of more than $700,000 from her employer and related companies and individuals.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Biagi was employed by HB Nitkin Group of Greenwich, a privately owned business engaged in real estate management and development.

She served as an assistant to the chairman of the company with responsibilities that included managing the accounts payable for the company.

From approximately February 2014 to December 2015, Biagi defrauded the company, as well as key company individuals and members of their families who retained financial and banking information at the company.

As part of the scheme, Biagi created fraudulent invoices made out to fictitious companies detailing charges for items such as masonry, carpentry, electrical and plumbing work.  She then used victims’ checkbooks to make checks out to the fictitious companies, purportedly to pay the fraudulent invoices.  Biagi then deposited the checks into her personal bank account, at times endorsing the check with an illegible signature to hide her misconduct, and subsequently withdrew the monies for her personal use.

To keep track of which invoices were fictitious and which checks were made to fictitious companies, Biagi often included her initials “DB” in the fabricated company name listed on the invoice and check.  Biagi then noted the fictitious company as the payee in the relevant accounting records at the company and filed the fabricated invoices as business record.  Biagi also, as needed, misappropriated the signature stamp of the company’s chairman and used it to “sign” the misappropriated checks and to falsely suggest that the paid expenditure was both legitimate and authorized.

In addition, at different times during the scheme, Biagi simply stole checks from employees of the company and either made the checks to cash, or endorsed to cash checks that already listed a payee.

In total, Biagi stole $711,074.39 during the course of this scheme.

Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for November 21, 2016, at which time Biagi faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Greenwich Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Schmeisser.