Owner of new jersey-Based construction company sentenced to prison for conspiring to defraud charlie brown’s and p.C. richard & son
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – The president of New Jersey-based commercial construction company Designline Construction Services was sentenced today to 25 months in prison for engaging in two different criminal conspiracies aimed at defrauding Charlie Brown’s Acquisition Corporation and P.C. Richard & Son Corporation, respectively, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
David Slabon, 44, of Sea Girt, N.J., previously pleaded guilty to a criminal Information charging him with one count each of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, who also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to the Information to which Slabon pleaded guilty and statements made in court:
From 2004 through 2009, Slabon was the president and CEO of Designline Construction Services, a commercial construction company based in Eatontown, N.J. During that time, Slabon conspired with Russell D’Anton, then the CEO of Charlie Brown’s Acquisition Corporation – which owns and operates the Charlie Brown’s chain of restaurants – to pay kickbacks to D’Anton in exchange for D’Anton’s awarding of construction work to Designline. Slabon admitted that he paid more than $70,000 in kickbacks to D’Anton in the form of monetary payments as well as items and trips – including tickets to Broadway shows, chartered flights on private jets, and vacations to destinations including the Bahamas. In addition, Slabon caused Designline to perform construction work on D’Anton’s home either at no charge or at a significantly reduced charge. D’Anton pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced in February to 24 months in prison.
Slabon also admitted that from 2008 to June 2009, he engaged in a separate criminal conspiracy to defraud P.C. Richard & Son, which operates a chain of retail electronics stores. Slabon admitted that he and several Designline employees conspired to defraud P.C. Richard by submitting false and fraudulently inflated invoices for construction work in connection with Designline’s work on a large warehouse and office facility being built for P.C. Richard in Carteret, N.J. As a result of this conspiracy, Designline fraudulently overbilled P.C. Richard approximately $2.5 million for construction work and services that were never performed. Three former employees of Designline have also pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the overbilling scheme: Mark Cherchio and Rick Zarkos entered guilty pleas before Judge Debevoise on July 12, 2010, and Georges Chalemin entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Garrett E. Brown Jr. in Trenton federal court on June 22, 2010. Cherchio was subsequently sentenced to five months in prison; Zarkos and Chalemin were each sentenced to three years of probation.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Debevoise sentenced Slabon to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $2,108,885.60 in restitution to P.C. Richard & Son and $86,861 to CB Holding Corp.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in charge Michael B. Ward, in Newark, and special agents with IRS – Criminal Investigation, under Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Kelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Raymond M. Brown, Esq., Woodbridge, N.J.