Ohio Financial Advisor Receives 17.5-Year Prison Sentence for Fraud

Richard A. Zakarian, a former certified Ohio financial planner, was recently sentenced to 17.5 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $4.4 million in restitution after he pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud and one count of making and subscribing false income tax returns. His financial crimes victimized close to 100 clients, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach.

Zakarian owned and operated many businesses, including a payroll service, and worked as a self-employed tax preparer. All the while, he was running schemes to defraud his clients. One scheme focused on defrauding investors while the other was a fraud scheme against clients of his payroll business. According to Dettelbach, many of Zakarian's victims were non-profits, churches and small businesses.

In a deliberate attempt to defraud, Zakarian manipulated and misled his clients to invest with him from 2002 to 2012. He preyed on many clients from his tax preparation business because he had seen their tax refunds and knew they had money. Zakarian told his clients that their money would be kept secure, and that these investments were guaranteed to deliver a return. In reality, he was taking his clients' funds for the purpose of paying his expenses (both personal and business-related). He also used their money to make high-risk investments, investments for which he had a track record of large losses.

Clients did not receive the guaranteed returns that Zakarian had promised. In fact, 23 of these investors sustained losses in excess of $1 million. He also caused significant harm to many of his clients by failing to submit their tax returns as promised. Dettelbach explained that this tax scheme was an attempt to raise money so that he could cover his tracks from the investment fraud scheme. His goal was to generate profit that was sufficient to pay back his investors, cover his operating expenses, pay his clients' employment taxes and still have money left over. The end result was just the opposite.

If you or someone you know lost money because of a fraud scheme like Zakarian's, contact our firm. Meyer Wilson's founding Attorney David Meyer won a $260 million jury verdict in a class action against Prudential Securities which is believed to be the largest jury verdict in the state of Ohio. Pursuing investor claims and class actions is what we do. Call today to receive a free evaluation of your case.


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