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Ohio financial adviser charged in $4.4M fraud

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A financial adviser in northern Ohio has been charged with defrauding more than $4.4 million from nearly 100 clients, including churches and charities, over a 10-year period.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said Tuesday that 47-year-old Richard Zakarian of Vermilion was charged in a five-count criminal filing with wire, mail and tax fraud.

The government says Zakarian, a financial planner and self-employed tax preparer, lured investors with promises of guaranteed returns. Instead, the government says he made personal use of the money or invested in high-risk ventures.

The charges were detailed in a court filing which usually signals a pending plea deal.

No phone for Zakarian was available, and there was no immediate comment from his attorney in response to a message.