An ex-Chicago Bear charged with tax evasion is prepared to plead guilty to four misdemeanor counts of not filing income tax returns. The player, defensive lineman Chris Zorich, made more than $1 million during that period.
Some of that income reportedly came from a charity that Zorich founded, one that continued to take in donations even after the non-profit organization stopped doing any charitable work. Attorney Matthias Lydon said the ex-Chicago Bear charged with tax evasion could face up to four years in prison, but hopes to avoid any jail time.
“He’s been looking forward to the day he could start putting this behind him,” Lydon told the The Associated Press.
The ex-Chicago Bear could be facing more charges. The state of Illinois is investigating the activities of the Chris Zorich Foundation, which ceased its charitable work in 2008 but took donations through 2010, when Zorich admitted he didn’t know where the charity’s money had gone.
It was later found that Zorich was taking $3,000 in salary from the foundation every month to be used as rent. The charity’s office was in Zorich’s home.
The mission statement of the foundation was “one purpose, one goal” to provide help and opportunities to disadvantaged Chicago residents across racial, religious, economic, and social boundaries.
The last time the foundation submitted a federal IRS 990 tax statement was more than ten years ago, which showed that it took in more than $1.3 million.
Zorich, who has a law degree from Notre Dame but never passed the bar exam, resigned in 2010 from an ambassador position at the university. Notre Dame still gives out a community service award in Zorich’s name, however.
Zorich played for the Chicago Bears between 1991 and 1996, earning a Pro Bowl berth in 1993. He played one season for the Washington Redskins in 1997, retiring with 16.5 sacks and 211 tackles for his career.
The ex-Chicago Bear charged with tax evasion has already paid back $15,000 so far and is up to date in his payments, his lawyer said.