Nonprofit Newswire | Ex-Footballer’s Foundation Called for Foul But Suffers Minimum Penalties

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June 22, 2010; Source: Chicago Tribune | The Chicago Tribune appears to have done more investigation into a charity, that by all accounts and rule of law should have been put out of business years ago, than any of the state or federal authorities that are supposed to make oversight of nonprofits routine, not just when they get around to it. According to the newspaper, a foundation started in 1993 by ex-Chicago Bears player Chris Zorch, had its registration canceled by the Illinois attorney general’s office for failing to file its 2002 tax return on time.

Although the charity is still considered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax-exempt, the last tax return it received was for its 2002 fiscal year, but that didn’t show up until 2007. Still the IRS waited until last April to file a $10,000 lien against the foundation. The Tribune reports that when—as part of its investigation—it asked the Illinois attorney general’s office about the charity it was told that it “was trying to reach Zorich.”

The newspaper apparently had no problem locating him. He works in the University of Notre Dame’s athletic office. Zorich himself, however, had little helpful information. His understanding was that the foundation was closed in 2008, and claimed he was unaware that no tax returns had been filed since 2002. He also was surprised that when told that chriszorich.org is an active website and lists an address to mail donations. As to the status of the $864,645 listed in assets on that last return, Zorich said he had no clue, and told the Tribune he assumed the money was still there. But when asked, he couldn’t produce a bank statement listing the funds.

Also saying he knew about his foundation’s past problems with the state, he again assumed the charity’s executive director—a cousin who has since died—had resolved those issues years ago. As for the future of the foundation, Zorich told the Tribune he plans to hire an accounting firm to review finances and help distribute any remaining assets. In the meantime, he’s yet to hear from the attorney general’s office.—Bruce Trachtenberg