December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Tax preparer indicted for theft, accused of taking more that $700K from Spitzer

ELYRIA — Tax preparer Richard Zakarian has been indicted on a felony theft charge for allegedly stealing more than $700,000 from Spitzer Management Inc.

Zakarian

Zakarian, 46, and his company, Benjamin Franklin Tax Service, were sued by Spitzer earlier this month over the funds, which were supposed to have been used to pay the auto dealer’s payroll taxes to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the state.

According to the lawsuit, Zakarian was given $753,831.98 between July 2011 and June 2012 to cover the payroll taxes. Of that money, $591,586 was supposed to go to the IRS, but Zakarian allegedly only made deposits totaling $24,456.

Approximately $186,000 was supposed to have gone to the state and doesn’t appear to have been paid, the lawsuit contends.

Spitzer attorney Anthony Giardini said Spitzer learned of the problem after being notified by the IRS that payments weren’t being made. He said he investigated the matter and turned his findings over to Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will’s office earlier this month.

Giardini said he has no idea where the money went.

“I’m hoping there’s some sort of reasonable explanation, and I haven’t heard one yet,” he said.

Both Giardini and Will said they’ve learned that there may be other victims out there.

“It’s an ongoing investigation, and I believe we will hear from additional people who have complaints,” Will said.

Kristina Supler, an attorney for Zakarian, said the allegations against her client are still fresh and she has yet to see the evidence gathered against him.

“Mr. Zakarian is presumed innocent, and he intends to address the allegations,” Supler said.

Spitzer obtained a temporary restraining order Aug. 21 that gave the auto dealer control over the bank accounts for Zakarian and his companies as well as Benjamin Franklin Tax Service offices on Broadway in Lorain.

That order expired Sunday, but Giardini said that court orders still are in place that bar Zakarian from spending money in accounts that could be used to pay back Spitzer.

In the meantime, Giardini said, Spitzer has brought in another accounting firm to fix the problem with the IRS and the state.

Zakarian, who was being held in the Lorain County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond, is due to be arraigned Thursday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.