Man Gets 17 Years for Schemes in Which Clients Lost Millions

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Richard Zakarian

VERMILION, Ohio– A man was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison for financial crimes that victimized nearly 100 clients, authorities said.

Richard A. Zakarian, 48, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and mail fraud and one count of making and subscribing false income tax returns.

He was a certified financial planner and self-employed tax preparer who owned and operated several business ventures.

He must also pay more than $4.4 million in restitution to the affected clients.

Authorities said Zakarian operated two schemes: one to defraud investment clients; another was to defraud clients whose payroll taxes he handled through a company known as Ben Franklin Payroll Service.

Many of the payroll tax victims were churches, charities and other non-profit organizations.

Zakarian operated the scheme from September 2002 through August 2012, authorities said.