Chris Zorich charged for failing to file federal income taxes

March 6, 2013 10:00:00 PM PST
Former Chicago Bears player and community activist Chris Zorich has been hit with federal tax charges.

To put it in sports terms, Thursday was a game changer for Zorich, a beloved Chicago Bear for six seasons and All-America at Notre Dame before that. Zorich was widely respected for his charity work and a foundation in his name.

At age 43, an official reversal of fortune for Zorich as federal tax charges alleging that he made more than $1 million over several years and filed no tax returns.

Thursday's charges against the former NFL star cap a run of bad luck.

Authorities say Zorich plans to report to federal court and plead guilty to misdemeanor offenses: failing to file us income taxes from 2006 through 2009, despite making more than $1 million.

Late Thursday afternoon at Zorich's Bridgeport home, no one answered the door, although it appeared someone was home.

The tax case is intertwined with financial questions raised about Zorich's charitable foundation.

No longer in operation, the Zorich Foundation's mission statement "one purpose, one goal" was to provide assistance and opportunities to disadvantaged Chicagoans, while striving to foster a sense of caring and fellowship, which crosses race, religious, economic, and social boundaries."

The unique-looking ex-athlete was often seen personally working charity events.

But the last federal tax filing of his foundation, obtained by the I-Team, was more than 10 years ago. It reveals that from 1998 to 2001 the charity took in almost $1.3 million. At the end of 2002 the Zorich Foundation reported assets of $865,000.

It is unclear what happened to that money and even though Zorich was quoted as saying the charity last accepted donations in 2005, his website was still up and online in 2010 asking for contributions.

A spokesman for Zorich's alma mater tells the I-Team that the one-time Irish star no longer works there, having resigned an ambassador position in 2010. An annual community service team award is still given out in Zorich's name.

Zorich has a law degree from Notre Dame but never passed the bar exam. Last summer, an investigation by the Illinois Attorney General determined that Zorich had to repay $350,000 in money missing from his charity.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General says Zorich has repaid $15,000 so far and is up to date in his payments.

Zorich's attorney has not answered left messages.