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FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

A woman state authorities say was scammed out of $480,000 by two of her employees is an heiress to the Wrigley chewing gum fortune.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that the victim in the case is Helen Rich, 69, formerly Helen Rosburg. She is the great-granddaughter of William J. Wrigley, who founded the famous chewing gum company in 1891.

The FDLE arrested Chet Alan Ragsdale and Barbara DiCioccio on dozens of charges on Monday, accusing them of depositing checks meant for Rich in their own account and using the money to pay for real estate and their own bills.

The victim in that case was not identified when the arrests were made. But on Tuesday the FDLE said it was Rich.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: FDLE: Pasco couple scammed elderly employer out of $480,000

Her attorney, Robert Shimberg, told the Tampa Bay Times that DiCioccio worked as Rich’s personal assistant and bookkeeper while Ragsdale helped manage her farm in Odessa.

"(She is) appreciative of the job law enforcement has done in investigating this matter and she will work closely with them as it works its way through the criminal justice system," Shimberg said.

Ragsdale, 45, faces 28 counts of grand theft, 25 counts of forgery, 25 counts of uttering a forged instrument, racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and money laundering.

DiCioccio, 52, faces 25 counts of grand theft and money laundering, racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and money laundering. The couple live together at 5621 Sea Turtle Court in New Port Richey.

More: Wrigley heir Helen Rich

Wrigley News Stuns Heiress; Odessa Estate Comforts (May 5, 2008)

A Wrigley chewing gum heir puts rescued animals up in style (May 5, 2012)

Wrigley gum heir calls Odessa home (May 7, 2013)

The FDLE said it started the investigation in April 2017 after a complaint was filed on Rich’s behalf with the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

DiCioccio would open mail containing checks sent to Rich, the state said, then pass them off to Ragsdale. From there, the state said Ragsdale would get Rich to endorse the checks.

Rich thought the checks were being deposited into her bank account. Instead, the state said the checks ended up in the couples’ accounts.

FDLE Special Agent Mark Brutnell said it’s normal for a case as complicated as this one to take a year or more to investigate because of all the records involved.

"It was a lot of hard work by our agents, a lot of man hours sifting through paperwork," Brutnell said. "It took us a long time, but our folks knew it was there and they successfully reached a resolution."

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