Former Chicago Bear Chris Zorich pleads guilty to tax crimes
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org March 14, 2013 11:34AM
Updated: April 16, 2013 4:03PM
A day after his 44th birthday, former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Chris Zorich admitted in federal court Thursday that he hadn’t filed taxes on income of $1 million.
Zorich, his mood matching his somber black suit Thursday, now faces the possibility of up to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty to four misdemeanor counts of failing to file federal income taxes. He’s also eligible for probation.
In court at the Dirksen Federal Building, Judge Daniel Martin explained the rights Zorich was giving up by pleading guilty and then asked the former All-American to explain to his crime.
“I chose to not file my taxes [between] 2006 and 2009 in a timely fashion,” Zorich said.
“And you knew you were wrong to do this?” Martin asked.
“Yes, your Honor,” Zorich said.
Zorich left the courthouse without stopping to answer reporters’ questions.
Zorich played for the Bears from 1991-96, and for the Washington Redskins in 1997. During his playing days, he founded a charity intended to help Chicago-area needy. Initially, the charity received positive media attention. But the charity came under scrutiny after it failed to submit an annual report for 2002, and the state cancelled the foundation’s registration two years later. Even so, the foundation continued to receive donations, federal prosecutors allege. From 2006 to 2009, Zorich failed to report income he received from the charity as well as money he got from the Bears, the University of Notre Dame — where he worked in the athletic department from 2008 to 2010 — and from a Chicago law firm, prosecutors allege.
Under the terms of Zorich’s plea agreement, he has agreed to pay $71,000 in back taxes.
The judge set Zorich’s sentencing for July 12.