Charles D. Zephir Sr., 83, IRS supervisor

October 06, 2003|By Michael Stroh | Michael Stroh,SUN STAFF

Charles Donald Zephir Sr., who spent three decades with the Internal Revenue Service investigating tax evaders, died Saturday at his Catonsville home of complications from prostate cancer. He was 83.

Born in South Baltimore, Mr. Zephir grew up in Catonsville and was a 1936 graduate of Catonsville High School.

After earning an accounting degree from the University of Baltimore, he joined the Internal Revenue Service in 1943 and eventually worked his way up to become a group supervisor in the audit division.

His specialty was tax evasion, said retired IRS agent Charles Becker, who began working for Mr. Zephir in 1968.

Working in the Fallon Federal Building in Hopkins Plaza, Mr. Zephir and his 16-person team followed up leads and investigated suspected tax evaders in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

According to Mr. Becker, Mr. Zephir was given permission in 1970 to pick agents for a new anti-fraud team. Dubbed the "strike force," the team focused on people such as bookies, real estate agents, politicians and business owners. "We were going after people who were actually criminals," said Mr. Becker. "There was plenty of work."

Mr. Becker recalled Mr. Zephir as being very disciplined. "Everything was by the book," he said. Mr. Zephir was also considered a good teacher by younger agents.

"Probably every one of those agents who worked for him became a better agent because of him," said Mr. Becker, who counted himself in that group.

Mr. Zephir retired from the IRS in 1974.

Two years later, Mr. Zephir came out of retirement to work for the state Comptroller's Office. During his five years in the office, Mr. Zephir worked in the former income tax division as a criminal investigator, said C. Ronald Townsend, assistant director of the office's compliance division.

Mr. Zephir retired a second time in 1981.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 29 Melvin Ave. in Catonsville.

In addition to his wife of 60 years, the former Katherine Lee Johnson, Mr. Zephir is survived by a son, Charles D. Zephir Jr. of Pasadena; four daughters, Donna Lee Lancelotta of Ocean City, Sally A. Rominski of Fallston, Mary K. Miller of Ellicott City and Theresa M. Tunney of Hampstead; two brothers, Andrew F. Zephir and Willard E. Zephir, both of Leominster, Mass.; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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