CHICAGO (CBS) — Calling it “the break of your life,” a federal judge handed no prison time Tuesday to a former suburban cop who dodged about $140,000 in taxes in connection with a fraud scheme at a Wrigleyville rooftop business.
Richard Zasiebida, 38, testified for days last year against Marc Hamid, the former owner of Skybox on Sheffield who has since been sentenced to 18 months in prison for scamming the Chicago Cubs and local governments out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
During Hamid’s trial, Zasiebida endured an especially painful cross-examination. He was forced to admit he used drugs, pocketed cash from Skybox customers while working for Hamid, and paid for a lesson on beating a polygraph test when he sought a job in law enforcement.
But Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin called Zasiebida an “excellent” government witness who “didn’t try to sugarcoat it.” He sentenced Zasiebida to three years of probation not only because of his cooperation, but because he appears to have turned his life around.
Zasiebida pleaded guilty in July 2016 to dodging about $140,000 in federal taxes in connection with the Wrigleyville fraud.
Prosecutors said Zasiebida confessed his wrongdoing when federal agents came calling late in 2012. They said he helped them uncover Hamid’s scheme, meeting with them 17 times. Their investigation also nabbed Joseph Gurdak, a suburban accountant who helped Hamid bilk the Cubs. Durkin has sentenced him to six months in jail.
“(Zasiebida) gave us a road map,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Welsh said Tuesday.
Prosecutors also said Zasiebida abandoned the Wrigleyville fraud before he caught wind of their investigation.
Zasiebida told the judge he recently sought a job in law enforcement because he was “so disgusted with the person I had become.” He stopped using drugs in September 2013, his lawyer said. And he worked in 2015 for the police departments in downstate Brooklyn, Crestwood and Oak Park.
But Tuesday, he said he doesn’t “deserve” to have a career in law enforcement. After losing his job in Oak Park, he began working as a driver for Uber and Lyft.
Still, he told the judge, “I believe I am on the right path.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2017. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)