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Employee Benefits Security Administration

News Release

EBSA News Release: September 13, 2010
Contact Name: Gloria Della
Phone Number: 202-693-8666
Release Number: 10-1288-SAN

Owner of Los Angeles-based Amadeus Salon indicted
for embezzlement of retirement plan assets

LOS ANGELES – The U. S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration today announced that the owner of a Pasadena spa and salon has been indicted on federal charges that he embezzled thousands of dollars from his employees’ 401(k) profit-sharing plan.

Joseph Wong of Rowland Heights, president and owner of Pasadena, Calif.-based Amadeus Salon Inc., was indicted by a grand jury on Sept. 3. The eight-count indictment alleges that Wong embezzled from an employee benefit plan covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, commonly known as ERISA. Each count in the indictment carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison.

According to the indictment, Wong withheld more than $26,000 from his employees’ paychecks for the purpose of forwarding the money to a company-sponsored retirement plan between 2004 and 2008. Instead of forwarding the money, Wong allegedly kept and used it for his own benefit.

Wong was arrested at his home on Sept. 7, held overnight at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles, and arraigned the following day. At his arraignment, Wong pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment, and he was released on a $50,000 bond. Wong’s trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 19 in U.S. district court.

“This criminal action demonstrates the Labor Department’s resolve to vigorously enforce the law to ensure that those who steal from contributory employee benefit plans are brought to justice,” said Crisanta Johnson, director of EBSA’s Los Angeles Regional Office. “We will aggressively investigate plan theft under our Contributory Plans Criminal Project, which targets those who prey on plan participants and beneficiaries.”

The case against Wong was investigated by the EBSA office in Los Angeles with assistance from the Labor Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cheryl O’Connor. The indictment of a person by a grand jury is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

U.S. v. Wong
Criminal Number 10-0997

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