NY Tea Partier Admits|to Conspiracy Charge

     (CN) – A Westchester County, N.Y., businessman pleaded guilty to submitting false loan applications to banks and tax fraud, the government announced Thursday afternoon.
     As part of the plea deal, Selim “Sammy” Zherka, 47, agreed to forfeit $5.2 million, according to the Justice Department.
     Zherka was indicted last year on accusations that he got more than $146 million in loans from three banks from 2005 to 2008.
     Thursday’s announcement from the Justice Department says Zherka obtained $63.5 million in loans from Sovereign Bank, now Santander, for the purchase or refinancing of apartment house complexes in Tennessee by lying about purchase prices and down payments.
     He also pleaded guilty to a five-year-long tax fraud scheme wherein he repeatedly filed fraudulent tax returns with the IRS, reducing tax liabilities for the apartment complexes by understating capital gains and overstating depreciation expenses, according to the government.
     Zherka, of Somers, N.Y., faces up to five years in prison for the guilty plea. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 22.
     Zherka owns two strip clubs in Manhattan, publishes the weekly newspaper the Westchester Guardian, and has called himself the Tea Party’s loudest voice in New York, according to a New York Times report.
     “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,” Southern New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

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