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Employee Benefits Security Administration

News Release

For Immediate Release: March 10, 2011
Contact: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976
Email: Allen.Scott@dol.gov/Burke.Rhonda@dol.gov
Release Number: 10-1471-CHI

US Labor Department action recovers nearly $52,000
from trustees of Premier Properties USA 401(k) Plan

INDIANAPOLIS –– The actions of the U.S. Department of Labor have ensured that $51,933.26 of un-remitted employee contributions and related lost opportunity costs have been returned to the Premier Properties USA Inc. 401(k) plan.

“The trustees of this plan knowingly allowed employee contributions to be used for the benefit of the company and did not uphold their obligations to ensure the funds were returned to the plan,” said Paul Baumann, director of the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Cincinnati Regional Office. “The Labor Department will continue to help workers obtain their rightful benefits when fiduciaries fail in their responsibilities to properly manage all aspects of benefit plans.”

A federal district court in Indianapolis has entered a consent judgment and order requiring Premier Properties USA Inc. and trustees Christopher White, Judy Schnettgoecke and Bruce Smith to repay $5,608.82 in lost opportunity costs associated with employee contributions owed to the company’s 401(k) plan. Prior to the final entry of the consent judgment and order, the 401(k) plan’s insurance policy paid $46,324.44 for the restoration of un-remitted employee contributions. The judgment follows an investigation conducted by the Department of Labor into alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The court ordered Premier Properties USA Inc. and its trustees to restore the lost opportunity costs attributable to voluntary employee contributions withheld from employees’ wages but not remitted to the 401(k) plan from Jan. 1 through March 18, 2008.

Premier Properties USA Inc. and White are permanently barred from serving as fiduciaries to any ERISA-covered employee benefit plan. Further, all defendants are removed from serving as fiduciaries to this 401(k) plan, and an independent fiduciary has been appointed by the court to administer the plan. Money owed to the plan was repaid after litigation began in this case. At the time of the violations, White was president of the company, Schnettgoecke was vice president and Smith was general counsel.

The EBSA Cincinnati Regional Office conducted the investigation. Employers and workers can reach the Cincinnati office at 859-578-4680 or toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems related to private sector retirement and health plans. In fiscal year 2009, EBSA achieved monetary results of $1.3 billion related to pension, 401(k), health and other benefits for millions of American workers and their families. Additional information can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa.

Solis v. White, Schnettgoecke, Smith, Premier Properties USA
Civil Action Number: 10-cv-0700

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.