A Bucks County man who once admitted having stolen at least 500 cars for a chop-shop operation has been arrested again, this time for allegedly stealing 31 contractor vans in Philadelphia and breaking into 19 more.
David Zagami, 38, of the 2700 block of Filbert Avenue in Croydon, was arrested Tuesday and charged with 56 counts of theft, receiving stolen property, and related offenses, District Attorney Seth Williams announced Wednesday.
Eric Guerra Chacon, 36, of the 200 block of Louden Street in Philadelphia, was charged with receiving stolen property from Zagami and attempting to sell the items.
Authorities allege that Zagami targeted Ford Econoline and Chevrolet Express contractor vans for their contents, including such construction tools as generators, drills, compressors, saws, and grinders.
The vans that were stolen, mainly from Northeast Philadelphia, were later found by police within a one-mile radius in Croydon, prosectors said.
In 2000, Zagami pleaded guilty in federal court to being involved in a chop-shop operation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey worth millions of dollars.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty to walking away from a federal community corrections facility. A sentencing memo in that case submitted by prosecutors says that Zagami admitted in the chop-shop case to having stolen at least 500 cars for that operation alone.
In 2003, having served his time for the chop-shop case, Zagami was accused of stealing a Philadelphia police officer's Jeep, which contained the officer's badge, Glock, and two ammunition clips.
According to prosecutors, Zagami admitted to an FBI agent that he tossed the officer's badge down a sewer drain. The gun and ammunition clip were recovered by a Philadelphia detective at Zagami's wife's home in Pennsauken. Prosecutors said Zagami later told the detective where to find the Jeep.
In 2004, he pleaded guilty in another federal case to stealing and transporting across state lines, conspiracy, and illegally possessing a gun as a convicted felon.
Zagami's adult criminal record goes back to when he was 18, according to state court records.
In one case, Zagami was convicted of possession of an instrument of crime, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person after he was accused of threatening two Philadelphia police officers with a rifle.
At the time of the 2008 federal sentencing memo, Zagami was "serving an incarceration sentence for at least the seventh time in his adult life (following five separate period of placement and/or recommitment to juvenile facilities)," prosecutors wrote.
Zagami exhibited "a pattern of utter disregard for authority," prosecutors wrote.
According to court records, Zagami's term of supervised release in the escape case was terminated on its scheduled expiration date of Nov. 19, 2011.
Authorities now allege that Zagami started stealing contractor vans the following summer.
He was arraigned Tuesday night and was being held on $1.1 million bail.
Chacon turned himself in May 3 and is being held on a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.