A former accountant for NBA player Zaza Pachulia will plead guilty to two federal charges stemming from his handling of the former Milwaukee Bucks player’s taxes over several years.
Randy Usow, of Mequon, prepared Pachulia’s taxes for a decade after first meeting the player in 2004. Pachulia played for the Bucks in the 2004-05 season before signing with the Atlanta Hawks. He returned to Milwaukee in 2013 before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2015. He spent the last two years with the Golden State Warriors and signed with the Detroit Pistons this summer.
In three tax years alone, Usow provided Pachulia and his wife, Tinatin, with tax returns showing refunds of $87,000 to nearly $164,000 but then changed the returns before filing them with the IRS, according to a plea agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin.
The altered returns boosted the Pachulias’ potential refund by hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the couple never saw the additional money. Instead, Usow opened a bank account in Pachulia’s name to receive the refund. He then transferred the legitimate refund amount to an account in the name of US Government LLC, according to the agreement.
Usow used the US Government account to transfer the correct amount to the Pachulias, making it appear they had received their refund. In the meantime, Usow kept the inflated refund amount, which totaled nearly $810,000 in just three years.
Usow agreed last week to enter guilty pleas to one count of theft of government property and one count of aggravated identity theft. The first charge carries a potential 10-year prison sentence and the other carries a mandatory two-year sentence.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than three years in prison.
The plea agreement does not specifically mention Pachulia, but the facts in the case, including specific refund amounts, match those in a civil lawsuit the Pachulias filed against Usow in 2016.
In the civil case, the Pachulias accused Usow of breach of contract, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and intentional misrepresentation. The parties settled the case in 2017 without disclosing terms of the deal.