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News Release

Labor Department Sues To Recover Money For New Jersey Academy Pension Plan

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

The U. S. Department of Labor has sued the trustees, an accountant and a “shell investment entity” for imprudently investing nearly all of the retirement plan assets of Montgomery Academy, located in Gladstone, N.J., in unsecured investments.

The Montgomery Academy is a private not for profit school that was created to serve a select group of economically underprivileged children who were sent to the academy by local school districts. The retirement plan, started in 1984, provided benefits for some 55 employees as of June 1995.In October 1995, the plan had assets of $1,331,375.

In October of that year, defendant trustees Carolyn N. Kohn and Dr. Adolph Singer allowed all but $2,500 of the plan’s assets to be transferred to the plan’s accountant, Charles Genovese. Genovese then allegedly invested the money with Hemlock Investor Associates, a shell company controlled by him which had no assets of its own or any “prior reputable investment history.”

According to the lawsuit, trustees Kohn and Singer violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when they improperly:

— loaned virtually all of the plan’s assets to a shell company without security or information about the investment;

— relied on the advice of Genovese and did not conduct independent investigations into the merits of investing plan assets with Hemlock Investors Associates;

— failed to investigate whether Genovese received compensation based on the plan’s investments;

— made an unsecured loan to Genovese representing 99% of plan assets without determining the nature of how the assets were to be invested; and

— failed to obtain documentation or financial information about Hemlock before investing the plan’s assets with the company.

The lawsuit also alleges that Genovese failed to inform the trustees about how the plan’s assets would be invested, did not furnish them with written documentation on the investment with Hemlock and invested nearly all of its assets in investments without security. He also allegedly invested plan funds for his own benefit in a company in which he held a direct financial interest and failed to disclose to plan officials his ownership in Hemlock Investors Associates.

As relief, the department's lawsuit seeks to require that the defendants make the plan financially whole and undo all transactions prohibited by law. The lawsuit also asks the court to remove Singer as a trustee and to permanently bar all the defendants from serving in positions of trust to any plan governed by ERISA.

The court action resulted from an investigation conducted by the New York Regional Office of the department's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration into alleged violations of ERISA. The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 25 in federal district court in Newark.

(Herman v. Kohn)

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.

Phone Number: 202.219.8921

Employee Benefits Security Administration
August 27, 1999
Release Number