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Employee Benefits Security Administration

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

News Release

Release Date: June 26, 2006
Release Number: 06-1066-SAN (SF-69)
Contact Name: David James/Gloria Della
Phone Number: 202.693.4676/202.693.8666

Former Executive of Los Angeles Child Development Center Sentenced for Misuse of Retirement Assets

Los Angeles, California - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today announced that Margo Wainwright Harris has been ordered to repay $80,936 to the money purchase retirement plan of the Frederick Douglass Child Development Center Inc. in Los Angeles. Harris also was sentenced to three years’ supervised release and six months of home detention and was barred from dealings with employee benefit plans in the future.

An investigation by the Los Angeles regional office of DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) revealed that Harris misrepresented to the agency that more than $80,000 owed to the plan had been repaid. In March 2000, Harris deposited $80,936 into the center’s retirement plan account to prove that these assets, which had been improperly withdrawn from the plan’s account in 1999, had been restored. Two days later, she withdrew $80,000 from this same account and transferred it to the account of Youth Intervention Program, a non-profit organization for which Harris was executive director. Harris subsequently directed a subordinate to present the March 2000 deposit receipt to the department as proof that the money had been restored.

In August 2005, Harris pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court following an indictment issued in March 2005. Under a plea agreement, Harris is to restore the assets owed to the plan. As of June 19, 2006, the date of her sentencing, Harris had repaid $25,000 of the ordered restitution.

“This defendant lied to the Labor Department about restoring retirement assets to the Frederick Douglass retirement plan,” said Billy Beaver, director of EBSA’s Los Angeles regional office. “This case sends a clear message that those who misuse plan assets will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The investigation was conducted by EBSA’s Los Angeles regional office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Sentencing was handed down June 19, 2006 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

(U.S. v. Harris)
Criminal No. CR 05-233-PA

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Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.