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For Immediate Release: July 16, 2013
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Release Number: 13-1334-ATL (187)
Crestview, Fla., medical group ordered to restore $225,000 to employee stock
ownership plan following US Labor Department investigation
CRESTVIEW, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment requiring Robert S. Caputo and Glenn M. Bankert to restore $225,000 to an employee stock ownership plan. The judgment follows a lawsuit filed by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration alleging the defendants breached their fiduciary responsibilities, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
“Workers deserve to reap the full benefits of their hard-earned retirement savings,” said Isabel Colon, EBSA’s regional director in Atlanta. “This agency is committed to taking action on behalf of workers when plan fiduciaries fail in their duty to act solely in the interest of the participants.”
The department filed the lawsuit in 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida-Pensacola Division, alleging that the plan owned virtually all of the stock in Caputo’s medical practice, and that between 2000 and 2006, Caputo used assets of the medical practice as if they were his personal property. According to the suit, EBSA found that 97 percent of the practice’s assets were listed as receivables, but they were personal expenses and loans. It further alleged that the defendants violated ERISA by allowing the plan to purchase stock from participants at inflated prices; failed to allow older workers to diversify their account balance, as required by law; failed to keep accurate records; and failed to take action as the plan’s fiduciaries to remedy Caputo’s misuse of company funds.
Additionally, the suit alleged that Stephen K. Thielking and his Iowa-based accounting firm Oden and Thielking, which annually valued the company’s stock, knew or should have known that the price of the stock was inflated. The department is seeking a court order to permanently bar Thielking and his firm from providing services to employee benefit plans and to reimburse all profits or financial benefit as a result of the violations. A trial date has been set for Sept. 16.
Under the terms of the judgment, Caputo and Bankert will allow $225,000 of their employee stock ownership plan participant accounts to be applied as an offset against their debt to the stock ownership plan. The judgment also permanently bars the defendants from acting as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan subject to ERISA and appoints an independent fiduciary to administer the plan.
Robert S. Caputo D.O. is a for-profit medical group in Crestview that specializes in obstetrics and gynecology.
The case was investigated by EBSA’s Atlanta Regional Office. It was litigated by the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Atlanta.
Workers participating in employer-sponsored health and retirement benefit plans who feel that they have been denied a benefit inappropriately or have questions about benefits laws can contact an EBSA benefits adviser by visiting www.askebsa.dol.gov or calling 866-444-EBSA (3272).
Solis v. Robert S. Caputo, D.O., P.A.
Civil Action File Number 3:10-cv-210-MCR/EMT
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.