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Vaughan employee charged with defrauding $2.4M from city over 13 years
July 9, 2014
Alex Jivov

Police have arrested a longtime employee with the wastewater and drainage department at the city of Vaughan, plus three of his family members and another woman, and charged them with defrauding the city of over $2.4-million over 13 years.

York Regional Police allege that Benjamin Ciampichini, 57, with the help of family and friends, created a series of fake companies which would provide services for the City of Vaughan, and be paid for work that never materialized.

“He would then create and approve fraudulent filed purchase orders for services that were never renderede and the fictitiois companies received payment from the city of Vaughan,” police said in a news release.

Police allege that Mr. Ciampichini, who worked as a supervisor with the Water, Wastewater and Drainage department, created and approved over 1000 field purchase orders for his fake companies’ services

Vaughan fired Mr. Ciampichini in January 2013, the city told the National Post, but refused to discuss his termination.

Vaughan reported the fraud to police in April 2013, who launched an investigation in December 2013 following a routine city audit in October which confirmed that money had been funnelled into a series of fake companies.

While police stated they  have “many fraud cases that lead to arrests,” they would not comment on the comparative severity of the Vaughan investigation.

“While this incident is unacceptable, we cannot let the actions of certain individuals tarnish all the great things we are doing each and every day for this City,” said Vaughan City Manager Barb Cribbett in an email to city employees Wednesday.

“However, our message is clear – if you break the law, we will take action.”

Benjamin Ciampichini has been charged with fraud over $5,000, conspiracy to commit fraud, and breach of trust by public official.

Family members Anna Ciampichini, 54, Vittorio Ciampichini, 59, and Linda Ciampichini, 60, as well as friend Michele D’Agostino, 50, have all been charged with fraud over $5000, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The five appeared in court Tuesday morning.

“For the past seven months there have been a team of dedicated officers from our Major Fraud Unit working on this investigation,” Detective Sergeant Dan Corbeil said in a release.

The city said it has put in new rules for buying “low cost” goods and services like the ones peddled by the alleged fraudsters, and has created an anonymous reporting system for city staff who might suspect wrongdoing in their midst.

Vaughan is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada, growing 20.7% from 2006 to 2011, when the national average growth was only 5.9%. It has had management issues in the past, with  a $15 million cost overrun in 2011 earning Vaughan city council an ‘F’ grade for tax dollar management and accountability from Time for Change in Vaughan, a local advocacy group.