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Employee Benefits Security Administration

News Release

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Release Date: March 26, 2007
Release Number: 07-447-SAN
Contact Name: Gloria Della/Peter Hong
Phone Number: 202.693.8664/202.693.4676

U.S. Labor Department obtains consent order shutting down ‘sham’ health care fund based in California - Health claims of individuals in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, other states to be paid

San Francisco - The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment shutting down the International Union of Public and Industrial Workers Canadian Benefit Fund, a sham health fund based in Paramount, California. The judgment also restores $542,727 to pay pending health claims of more than 2,000 workers and families, removes officials from their positions with the fund and appoints an independent fiduciary to manage the fund’s assets of $762,606, terminate the plan and pay health claims.

“Workers have been betrayed and saddled with unpaid health claims,” said Bradford P. Campbell, acting assistant secretary of the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA). “The department’s legal action ensures that the defendants will not misuse the assets of any plan in the future.”

Plan officials must pay a civil monetary penalty and are permanently barred from service to any plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in the future. Participants with health claims or questions should contact Betty Cordial, the independent fiduciary, at 602.240.6821.

The judgment, entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, resolves a Labor Department lawsuit that alleged imprudent mismanagement of the fund by plan trustees Gary Couch, Roger “Tim” Gue, William Hope and Robby Larkin; and Pamela Barlow, secretary-treasurer of a related union. The defendants admitted they violated ERISA when they transferred $1.2 million in unpaid claims owed by the International Union of Industrial and Independent Workers to an insolvent health plan sponsored by the union. The health claims involved individuals in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and other states.

EBSA’s Los Angeles Regional Office investigated this case. Copies of the legal documents will be available on EBSA’s Web site at Employers and workers can reach the Los Angeles office at 626.229.1000 or EBSA toll-free at 1.866.444.EBSA (3272) for help with problems relating to private sector retirement and health plans.

Chao v. International Union of Public and Industrial Workers Canadian Benefit Fund
Civil Action Number 05-CV-3053 BBM

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