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News Release

Chicago Attorney Sentenced To Jail In Pension Fraud Scheme

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Chicago attorney George C. Hook was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to make $735,566 in restitution to the pension plan of Wittek Industries, now under trusteeship of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The May 26 sentencing took place in the federal district court in Peoria, III. Hook was convicted May 29, 1997 of wire fraud, theft from a pension plan and money laundering for his role in raiding the company's pension plan.

The plan lost $696,800 of its $990,000 in assets in a complex scheme orchestrated by Hook and his client Carmen Viana, who owned Wittek Industries. The scheme required deceptive wire communications to the Detroit bank managing the pension plan's assets so that the funds would be relinquished by the bank. Then the money was funneled through a sham real estate corporation to the failing Wittek Corporation after a series of certificates of deposit were purchased and used as collateral for loans to disguise the nature and source of the funds.

Viana, also indicted in the case and considered a fugitive, is believed to be living in her native country of Brazil. She moved Wittek Industries to Galesburg after the E.C. Manufacturing Division of Wittek in Pineville, N.C. closed in 1991. The retirement plan was set up under a collective bargaining agreement with the United Steel Workers Local 6141 to benefit some 200 steel workers employed at the Pineville facility.

Prior to last week's sentencing, the court ruled on numerous post-trial motions, conducted additional evidentiary hearings and addressed lengthy objections by Hook to the pre-sentence report prepared by the Probation Office in Peoria. Hook received a sentence of 84 months on the wire fraud and money laundering counts and a concurrent sentence of 60 months on one count of theft from a pension plan. He is scheduled to report to prison June 22 since his motion to remain free pending appeal was denied.

The sentencing is the result of a joint investigation carried out by the Kansas City Regional Office of the Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, which enforces the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by the U.S.

Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois in Peoria.
U.S. v. Carmen Viana and George C. Hook Criminal Action #95-10010

U.S. Department of Labor news releases are accessible on the Internet. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202.693.7773 or TTY 202.693.7755.

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

Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
Phone Number: 202.219.8921

Employee Benefits Security Administration
June 4, 1998
Release Number