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Talk-show host charged with failing to file taxes

Published: Thu, January 7, 2010 @ 12:04 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken

The FBI and the IRS have investigated the case.

CLEVELAND — Louis B. Free of Boardman, a self-employed radio talk-show host, has waived federal indictment on charges of not filing his federal income-tax returns.

The federal government has charged Free, whose real name is Louis A. Wolk, with failing to file federal income-tax returns for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Wolk, 56, is the host of the “Brainfood from the Heartland” program, which airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday on WGFT-AM 1330 in Youngstown and also on Vindy.com.

In a filing Tuesday, the U.S. attorney charged Wolk with three misdemeanor counts of failure to file after earning $74,150 in 2004, $46,810 in 2005 and $17,945 in 2006.

The filing, known as an information, is a formal written accusation by a prosecutor that charges someone with a crime and can be used only if the defendant waives indictment by a grand jury.

Wolk and his lawyer, Debra Migdal, an Akron-based federal public defender, have signed a waiver of indictment. The filing of an information usually means the defendant is cooperating with authorities and agrees to be found guilty of the charges.

Each count carries up to a year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.

The case, which is assigned to U.S. Magistrate James S. Gallas, was investigated by the IRS and the FBI. No court dates have been set.

Wolk said he has come full circle, having started his radio career about 10 years ago on 1330 when it had the call letters WASN and was under different ownership.

After two years there, he joined WWOW in Ashtabula, where he stayed for four years before returning to the Mahoning Valley on WASN-AM 1500. He switched three weeks ago to WGFT 1330 because of a station format change.

When asked why, as a frequent critic of corruption by public officials, he is charged with not fulfilling his obligation to file his federal tax returns for three consecutive years, he said: “I will continue to be a critic of corrupt public officials. ... I am neither corrupt nor a public official.”

Skip Bednarczyk, market manager for WRBP-FM 101.9, WGFT and WASN, said Wolk is on the air on a 90-day temporary trial basis on WGFT.

When that 90-day period ends, “his performance is going to be re-evaluated” to determine whether he’ll remain on the air based on response from the listening audience and the outcome of the federal charges, Bednarczyk said.

The trial-period arrangement for Wolk’s radio show predated the filing of the federal charges, the manager said.

Wolk declined to comment on the federal charges, his personal bankruptcy or two foreclosure actions filed against him.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kay Woods dismissed Wolk’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing last April because he failed to timely file all the necessary documents, she said.

A foreclosure filing by Commercial Financial Corp., mortgage holder on Wolk’s South Cadillac Drive residence, is still pending in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

American Tax Funding, which bought the tax lien on another Wolk property on Oakley Avenue, received a foreclosure judgment from Judge John M. Durkin of common pleas court in August 2008.


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