Former World champion Juan Manuel Marquez is in a legal dispute, claiming that he as been taken advantage of by a Major U.S. Bank and a father and son duo he believes extorted $2.3 Million in tax refunds from him through fraudulent bank accounts set up at the bank’s local branch.
Marquez is suing JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Adel Cotton and his son Heber Cotton, both of Hacienda Heights, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging the bank conspired with his former tax preparers to launder tax returns withheld from Marquez’s winnings from fights in the U.S.
The complaint filed March 24 claims the Cottons, who are currently serving sentences in federal prison in a separate tax fraud scheme, forged a power of attorney from Marquez to open the accounts in which they deposited Marquez’s tax refund checks totalling $2,308,439.
The Cottons filed returns for Marquez in 2013, claiming refunds of $898,057 for 2008 and $1,410,382 for 2012, according to the complaint.
“This is something he might expect in another country but here in the United States it’s very surprising to him and it’s something that gives him lots of personal preoccupation,” said Marquez’s attorney Alan J. Romero, translating what Marquez told reporters in Spanish. “He put his life on the line for this money.”
Romero said the bank failed to comply with federal regulations to prevent the use of its operations for money laundering when it approved opening accounts without Marquez present.
“It’s not just a case about theft of funds its a case about identity theft,” he said.
Marquez said he was seeking to file returns for several tax years when he met the Cottons in 2012 or 2013. The father and son were recommended to him by three other boxers who had done business with them.
Marquez’s new accountant Noriel Zuazo said Marquez received his returns for the 2009 and 2011 tax years but did not see the return checks for 2008 and 2012.
He found out that the returns for those years were stolen in 2015 when Zuazo obtained his tax return records from the Internal Revenue Service, showing the checks had been deposited.
“Where the money is now we hope to find out,” Romero said.