CLEVELAND - A Lorain County financial planner is charged with defrauding nearly 100 clients of more than $4 million over a period of 10 years.
Richard Zakarian, 47, of Vermilion, is charged with two counts each of wire fraud and mail fraud and one count of making and subscribing false income tax returns.
According to the information filed in US District Court, Zakarian induced investment clients to invest their retirement funds through him as their account representative. The information said he diverted the funds to pay personal and business expenses and invested in risky investments.
"This defendant is accused of taking advantage of trust of dozens of clients, which ranged from homeless shelters and nursery schools to retirees and those with disabilities," said US Attorney Steven Dettelbach in a news release. "The conduct laid out here is as outrageous as it is predatory."
Zakarian is also accused in a payroll tax scheme where he allegedly failed to file tax forms for clients of his Ben Franklin Payroll Service in Lorain. The government alleges he diverted substantial portions of the funds that should have been forwarded to various taxing authorities to pay the income taxes of his clients' employees and instead used the money for his own personal and business expenses.
Zakarian is currently being held in jail on state charges.