CLEVELAND - A tax consultant from Vermilion, Richard Zakarian, will spend 17 and a half years in federal prison for stealing millions from clients ranging from charities to businesses. He was also ordered to pay the nearly 100 victims more than $4.4 million in restitution.
At least 10 victims spoke in court Wednesday, many telling Zakarian how he ruined their lives. They described the financial hardships Zakarian imposed on them by taking their money and then not following through with what he promised.
In a news release, Steven Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said, "This defendant preyed on non-profits, churches and small businesses that struggled to make ends meet while making their communities better. He never meant to help them, only to defraud them. This was a systemic, deliberate pattern of behavior that took place over the years."
Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Cleveland Office, also said in the press release, "Zakarian orchestrated multiple financial schemes that all had one common thread, monetary benefit to him. Authorities will continue to bring those to justice that choose to unlawfully violate the trust of their clients."
Zakarian pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts each of wire fraud and mail fraud and one count of making and subscribing false income tax returns.