July 30, 2014

Elyria
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State drops criminal charges against jailed tax consultant Richard Zakarian

ELYRIA — State criminal charges against Lorain tax consultant Richard Zakarian were dropped Monday because the case against the jailed Zakarian is now being handled in federal court.

Zakarian

Zakarian

Zakarian pleaded guilty in May to federal mail and wire fraud charges for stealing more than $4.4. million from nearly 100 clients over the past decade.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in August and could receive up to 20 years under federal sentencing guidelines.

Zakarian, 47, was arrested on the state charges in August after Spitzer Management Inc. discovered that he had stolen roughly $500,000 from the company that he was supposed to have used to pay tax liabilities to state and federal governments.

Spitzer attorney Anthony Giardini took the company’s concerns to Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will who launched the investigation that ultimately led to Zakarian being charged with stealing from Spitzer, another Lorain company and an individual investor.

In the meantime, numerous clients sued Zakarian, who didn’t mount a defense to the lawsuits.

Will’s office had been gathering evidence for even more charges against Zakarian when the feds became involved in the investigation and Zakarian agreed to cooperate and pleaded guilty.

According to federal prosecutors, Zakarian used two primary schemes to defraud those who trusted him with their money.

In one scheme, he took money from investors and used that money for his own purpose, which included bad investments his attorney has acknowledged.

In the other scheme, Zakarian convinced businesses and nonprofits to hire his firm or pretended to be a charity that awarded grants to nonprofits. Once he had access to their accounts, he stole money to cover earlier losses and to pay for his own expenses.

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