Plan Sponsor Gets Jail Term for Pension, Benefit Embezzlement

January 25, 2006 ( - A woman convicted of embezzling more than $17,000 from her employees' pension and benefit plans has been sentenced to a 27-month prison term.

A US Department of Labor (DoL) news release said US District Judge John Copenhaver, Jr. handed down the federal court sentence against Mary Jo England, 59, of West Columbia, West Virginia.

According to the press release, in late 2000/early 2001, England and another person purchased Charleston Cash Register.   England controlled the majority interest in and ran the daily operations of the company. As the owner and operator of the company, England became the trustee of the employee pension (401(k)) and welfare (insurance) benefit plans, the DoL said.

England was responsible for paying those funds generated by employee contributions to the proper entities who then invested them. Instead of forwarding the funds to the proper entities, however, England used the funds for her own personal use, according to the government. As a result, employee contributions were not made to the 401(k) plan and premiums were not paid to maintain health insurance for the employees.   Employees’ health insurance coverage expired without the knowledge of the employees who, in some instances, continued to incur significant medical bills, according to the charges.

As a result of the resulting lapse in insurance coverage, employees incurred in excess of $13,000.00 in medical bills and, in some instances, were precluded from obtaining new coverage for certain pre-existing medical conditions.

Prior to sentencing, England’s victims received partial reimbursement for their losses through bankruptcy proceedings.   She was ordered to pay $9,012.25 in restitution – the remaining balance due to the employees.