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Accountant admits he helped steal from Cubs, cancer patient

Marc Hamid, a one-time Skybox on Sheffield executive, once tried to stop the Cubs from installing a video screen in right field. That same year, a federal grand jury accused Hamid of bilking the Cubs and local governments for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hamid's trial is underway. | File photo

A suburban accountant admitted Wednesday he helped bilk the Chicago Cubs out of hundreds of thousands of dollars while also embezzling another $358,000 from a cancer patient.

Joseph Gurdak, 73, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of filing a false tax return, charges that could land him in prison for as many as 23 years. However, he could see as little 30 months in prison if he cooperates with federal prosecutors during an upcoming trial revolving around a fraud scheme at a Wrigleyville rooftop business.

Gurdak is the second person in as many days to plead guilty in connection with that scheme as prosecutors gear up to put Marc Hamid, the former co-owner of Skybox on Sheffield, on trial. Hamid allegedly underreported Skybox’s gross revenue by about $1.5 million, shorting the Cubs and local governments to the tune of at least $600,000 in royalty and tax payments.

Facing U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin, Gurdak admitted he helped Hamid file false royalty statements with the Cubs that underreported Skybox attendance between 2007 and 2015, costing the Cubs $364,000 in royalties. He also admitted he filed a false tax return for 2012, failing to report $91,340 he embezzled from a client that year who was being treated for cancer.

In all, a federal prosecutor said Gurdak embezzled $358,208 from that client between 2011 and 2013 — shorting the IRS by $38,800. Gurdak’s attorney, Steven Fritzshall, said the client has been repaid.

“I apologize for what I’ve done, and my behavior,” Gurdak, of Park Ridge, told the judge.

Gurdak’s guilty plea follows an admission by former suburban cop Richard Zasiebida, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to dodging about $140,000 in federal taxes in connection with Hamid’s alleged fraud scheme. Zasiebida could see as little as a year in prison by cooperating with the feds during Hamid’s trial. Neither man’s sentencing hearing has been set.

Hamid was charged with four counts of mail fraud in March 2015. Since then, the feds have hit him with additional counts of fraud and structuring bank transactions. Attorneys for Skybox said Hamid was “relieved of all duties and responsibilities” immediately after his original indictment.