A swimming pool installer already headed to federal prison for tax evasion was charged Thursday in state court, along with his son, with embezzlement for taking payment but failing to finish numerous pools.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt charged Theodore Michael Zachritz, 67, and Todd Anthony Zachritz, 45, of Lifestyle Pools of Oklahoma City with one count of a pattern of criminal offenses and 11 counts of embezzlement. The charges were filed in Oklahoma County District Court.
The criminal pattern count carries a penalty of up to two years in prison or a $25,000 fine or both. Each embezzlement count carries a penalty of up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine or both.
The attorney general's Public Protection Unit investigated after receiving numerous complaints from Lifestyle Pools' customers. Investigators found that the company failed to complete pools for 11 customers even though they had paid at least 90 percent of the contract price. Each customer was charged up to $50,000.
“Fraud is a serious issue in Oklahoma, and we will hold accountable those individuals who take advantage of our citizens,” Pruitt said. “We encourage consumers to contact our office if they believe they have been victims of fraud.”
Theodore Michael “Mike” Zachritz was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison May 28 for failing to forward employees' payroll tax withholdings to the Internal Revenue Service. He also was sentenced to three months of supervised release and ordered to pay $461,363 in restitution to the IRS. U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ordered him to report to federal prison on July 26.
As owner of Lifestyle Pools, Zachritz deducted and withheld federal income taxes, Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes from the wages of his employees and was supposed to pay them to the IRS at the end of each quarter. In January, federal prosecutors charged Zachritz with failing to follow the law for the third quarter of 2006 through the end of 2009. He pleaded guilty to one count on Jan. 31.
Zachritz's troubles date to 2011, when the Oklahoma Tax Commission took him to state court seeking state withholding taxes, interest and penalties of more than $220,000. After a year, the commission shut down Lifestyle Pools last June 27, leaving customers with unfinished pools in the lurch.
The Tax Commission again arranged for Zachritz to make payments and allowed Lifestyle Pools to reopen on July 5. He failed to comply, and two weeks later the commission asked a judge to order the business shut down.
Fraud is a serious issue in Oklahoma, and we will hold accountable those individuals who take advantage of our citizens. We encourage consumers to contact our office if they believe they have been victims of fraud.”
Attorney General Scott Pruitt,