Trustees to Repay Union Benefit Funds

August 20, 2013 ( – The trustees of union benefit funds have begun a process of repayment to the funds after a recent judgment against them.

The trustees of the pension plan, annuity fund and vacation fund of Exhibition Employees Local 829 of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees in New York repaid a total of $2,256,817, with an additional $50,000 scheduled to be paid, to the funds following a consent judgment, which came after a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) investigation revealed numerous violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The trustees have also agreed to make additional payments and forfeitures of their own annuity plan accounts, resign and take other corrective action.

The DOL filed the lawsuit, Harris v. McNamee, et al (Civil Action Number: 12-CV-1511), in February 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit alleged numerous ERISA violations, which include the improper transfer of assets from the Local 829 pension plan to the union’s annuity, vacation, hiring hall and general funds as well as the improper transfer of at least $240,000 from the pension plan and annuity fund to service providers.

Under the consent judgment, the trustee defendants have repaid $1,975,209 to the pension plan, $219,467 to the annuity fund and $112,141 to the vacation fund. They have also placed $268,181.82 in an escrow fund to pay civil money penalties.

Additionally, defendants Kevin Dunphy, Manuel Farina, John T. Hall, Michele Sullivan and John Walsh forfeited up to $325,000 of their annuity fund balances. The defendants also agreed to resign as trustees and to be permanently barred from serving in a fiduciary or service provider capacity for these or any other ERISA-covered benefit plans.