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Courts and Crime


Vermilion financial planner charged
Feds say  money went to personal expenses and investments instead of investors and the IRS
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
In The Region:

A northeastern Ohio financial planner has been charged with bilking nearly 100 clients – including churches and charities -- out of $4.4 million. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

 

SCHULTZE: Financial planner charged

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The federal charges against Richard Zakarian include wire fraud, mail fraud and making out false income tax returns.

The U.S. attorney’s office says the 47-year-old Vermilion man ran several businesses including those that did tax preparation and payroll for nonprofit clients.

Zakarian’s accused of using his Ben Franklin Payroll Service to deduct money for taxes from clients’ payroll, and then never filing the returns. He alleged used the money instead to make risky investments and pay personal and business expenses. He also allegedly lured  unsophisticated investors -- from 2002 through last year -- to invest their retirement funds and other savings in what they thought were safe accounts. But the charges say that money, too, went to  business and personal expenses and risky investments.

And he’s accused of using promissory notes and a shell company to shift investors’ money to himself .

The federal charges are in the form of an “information” rather than an indictment, which usually means a defendant is cooperating.

 

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