Tax preparer sentenced to prison for crimes

Monday, June 22, 2015

A tax preparer was sentenced by Judge Todd Barnette to 18 months in prison on five counts of tax evasion, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

John Zastrow, 65, of Minnetonka, was also placed on 10 years of supervised probation, concurrent to his prison sentence, for identity theft. Zastrow could be sent to prison for 105 months if he violates the terms of his probation.

“Mr. Zastrow swindled tens of thousands of dollars from numerous clients who trusted him to prepare their taxes,” Freeman said. “He stole their names, birthdates and social security numbers in order to divert their income and property tax refunds to his own bank account.”

The State is requesting restitution of $42,253 for Zastrow’s tax preparation clients whom he defrauded and $53,082 for Zastrow’s unpaid taxes.

Zastrow is challenging the amounts of restitution for the victims. Each side will submit documentation in support of its position by July 19 with letter briefs by August 19. Judge Barnette will issue a ruling in September.

The investigation of Zastrow began when a couple went to the Minnetonka Police Department in October 2012 and reported they had learned that Zastrow prepared their income tax return but then had the federal and state refunds sent to his house and never turned the money over to them.

Zastrow was taken into custody.