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DENVER POST - A federal judge has ruled that ex-Denver Broncos linebacker Bill Romanowski is on the hook for about $5 million in back-taxes stemming from a horse-breeding scheme he says he got caught up in.

TheU.S. Tax Court decision last weekfound Romanowski, his wife Jill and a business they created in 2003 to invest in a Kentucky-based horse breeder wrongly took deductions dating back to 1998.

The deductions were related to more than $13 million the Romanowskis borrowed to invest in a breeding operation called ClassicStar. The company eventually went bankrupt and its principals were convicted of federal tax fraud. The Romanowskis deducted some of their losses as business losses.

The Romanowskis said they were brought into the investment scam by Rodney Atherton, a Denver tax attorney who was also atthe center of the near-collapse of Colorado's conservation easement program in 2007.

TheFeb. 20 rulingby Tax Court Judge Joseph Goeke came in response to a petition the Romanowskis filed in 2010 challenging an IRS determination that they owed taxes.

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