A federal grand jury indicted a Red Oak, Texas, couple who allegedly embezzled $14.5 million from retirement plans they managed, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox announced.
Jeffrey Richie, 53, and Wendy Richie, 58, co-owners of Vantage Benefits Administrators, were charged with conspiracy, theft from an employee benefit plan, wire fraud and aggravated identify theft.
According to the indictment, Vantage served as third party administrator for dozens of retirement funds, including several 401(k)s. With her husband’s knowledge, Ms. Richie—posing as various beneficiaries—allegedly submitted fraudulent distribution requests to the retirement fund custodian, Matrix Trust Co.
Instead of depositing the money into beneficiaries’ accounts, however, she transferred it into Vantage’s operating account. The couple allegedly used those funds to pay Vantage payroll and other operating expenses, as well as personal expenses, including mortgage and escrow payments, farming equipment and home décor.
The Richies misappropriated funds from at least 1,000 plan participants in at least 20 employers’ retirement plans, prosecutors say. A lawsuit filed by MBA Engineering on behalf of its 401(k) and cash balance plans also accuses Vantage Benefits, MBA’s TPA and recordkeeper, of stealing money from approximately 20 other retirement plans.
The couple did not only allegedly steal money from 401(k) plans. Two 403(b) plan participants filed a lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated 403(b) plan participants against Matrix Trust Company for making several transfers to an unauthorized account held by Vantage Benefits Administrators.If convicted on all counts, they face up to 81 years in federal prison.
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