Publisher of Westchester Guardian, Sam Zherka, Pleads Guilty In White Plains Federal Court To Conspiracy Charge, Filing False Tax Returns

Written By: Robert Cox

WHITE PLAINS, NY — Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Westchester businessman Selim “Sam” Zherka pled guilty today to conspiring to make false statements to a bank in order to receive millions of dollars in loans and to file materially false tax returns with the IRS. As part of his plea agreement, Zherka agreed to forfeit $5.23 million. Zherka entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel.

“With his guilty plea, Selim Zherka now has admitted to what we have been alleging all along, that he waged a years-long campaign of lies to a bank and the IRS to obtain millions of dollars in loans and fraudulently reduce his tax liabilities,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. 

“In addition to admitting his guilt, Zherka has agreed to forfeit over $5 million in ill-gotten gains.  I want to thank the FBI, IRS, and the TARP Special Inspector General for the excellent work in this investigation and prosecution.”

According to the Superseding Information filed today in White Plains federal court and other court documents filed in this case, from December 2005 through the present, Zherka conspired with others to obtain $63.5 million in loans from Sovereign Bank (now Santander), for the purchase and/or refinancing of apartment house complexes in Tennessee by lying about the purchase price of the real estate he was acquiring and the amount of the down payment he was making toward the purchase in question.

Additionally, the Superseding Information to which Zherka pled guilty charges him with engaging in a five-year-long tax fraud scheme.  The Information alleges that Zherka repeatedly submitted fraudulent tax returns to the IRS that overstated depreciation expenses and understated his capital gains for the real estate holding companies in which he was a partner and which, in turn, owned apartment house complexes, thereby reducing their tax liabilities. 

Four other individuals have previously pled guilty in White Plains federal court to conspiring with Zherka to commit offenses related to the conduct to which Zherka pled guilty today, and are awaiting sentencing.

Selim “Sam” Zherka, 47, of Somers, New York, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, based on the conspiracy charge to which he pled guilty. Zherka is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel on December 22, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Talk of the Sound has been told that under a deal with the Feds, Zherka would get a 48 month sentence less time served under which he could be released in 3 years.