DoL Files Suit Against Pension Owner, Alleging ERISA Violation

November 5, 2004 ( - The Department of Labor (DoL) has filed suit against the owner of a Massachusetts real estate firm for allegedly shortchanging his employee pension plan and then firing a worker who repeatedly questioned his actions.

Joseph Buscone, the owner of Joseph S. Buscone Management Inc, violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by miscalculating the benefits owed to employees through the plan, the suit alleges. The real estate management firm’s owner financially benefited from lowering the company’s insurance premiums owed the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which insures private defined benefit plans, according to the Milford Daily News of Massachusetts.

Buscone also is charged with firing employee Camilla Amandolare in April 2001 after she repeatedly questioned the move. Amandolare had been a property manager with the company for 20 years, and was one of ten participants in the company plan. Specifically, Buscone tried to limit his and Amandolare’s service to only five years, when in fact they had both been there for almost 20 years. The plan was set up so that benefits were accrued based on salary and years of service with the company.

The suit asserts that Buscone’s improper action affected the plan between 1999 and 2001, the Daily News reports.

DoL officials assert that they want Buscone barred from managing any future pension funds, and also want him to reimburse participants for lost funds. This should include back wages, benefits, and interest owed to Amandolare. They have asked the court to discern the actual amount owed.

The case was filed with the US District Court in Worcester, according to the Daily News.