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Accountant to diocese gets year for fraud

Sept. 23, 2009 at 3:22 PM

CLEVELAND, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- An accountant convicted of conspiring with a Diocese of Cleveland employee in a kickback scheme has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

Anton Zgoznik received the same sentence as his partner in crime, even though he faced considerably more time than Joseph Smith, the former chief financial officer for the Roman Catholic diocese, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported. U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich decided giving Zgoznik a longer term would be unfair.

"This is the most difficult sentence I have encountered in my 28 years on the bench," Aldrich said Tuesday. "It's a sentence that will make nobody happy."

Smith was convicted only of tax evasion, while Zgoznich was found guilty in 2007 of paying Smith $784,000 to steer business to his firm.

Both men said the Rev. John Wright, a diocesan official, authorized the kickbacks to provide additional pay for Smith, who had threatened to leave for a higher-paying job. Wright denied knowing about the scheme.

"This is what happens when good intentions are carried out with bad

mechanics," Zgoznik said during sentencing. "My intentions were

never criminal."

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