Ex-Bear Chris Zorich was charged today with misdemeanor federal offenses for allegedly failing to file federal income taxes for four years.
The charges allege that Zorich, 43, made more than a combined $1 million in gross income from 2006 through 2009 but failed to file federal income tax returns for any of those years.
Zorich authorized federal prosecutors to disclose that he is cooperating with the
The charges follow several years of legal difficulties for Zorich.
Last year, Zorich signed a consent decree to pay back almost $350,000 in funds related to his charity that were unaccounted for. That filing – Zorich denied misusing any funds – followed a two-year review by the Illinois attorney general's office, which was prompted by Tribune reporting on the Chris Zorich Charitable Foundation. The newspaper reported in June 2010 that Zorich's charity was in disarray and that Zorich didn't have bank statements that could account for the charity's unspent funds.
In Thursday’s filing, prosecutors allege that from 2006 to 2009, Zorich did not file tax returns despite receiving deferred compensation from the
According to prosecutors, the charity paid Zorich $3,000 monthly as rental income for use of property. The charity's registration was canceled for not submitting an annual financial report to the state but continued to receive contributions and make rental payments to Zorich from 2006 to 2009. According to the U.S. attorney's office, the charity failed to file tax returns and so never reported its payments to Zorich for rent.
Those years were troubling times for Zorich, he previously told the Tribune. Zorich's cousin and the charity's executive director, Barbara Singer, was diagnosed with cancer and she eventually died in 2008. Several years earlier, in 2005, Zorich's wife filed for divorce.
His attorney during the charitable review, Matt Lydon of Winston and Strawn, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
During his seven
Zorich, who was named a
Growing up on the South Side as an only child, he graduated from Chicago Vocational High School and became an all-America lineman at Notre Dame. He founded his charity in 1993, two years after being drafted by the Bears, to honor his mother, who raised him on a meager paycheck.
A few weeks before the 2010 Tribune report, he was recognized by a Chicago Croatian group for his charity work. Tax returns generally show that his foundation was exceeding what experts suggest are minimum standards for charitable spending and began developing problems about the time Singer was diagnosed with cancer.