SARASOTA, Fla. - The U.S. Department of Labor has sued Florida Family Magazine and its owner, Mary Elizabeth Winkle, to restore employer and employee assets owed to the company's savings incentive match plan for employees individual retirement account, or SIMPLE IRA plan, for the benefit of plan participants and beneficiaries.
The lawsuit followed an investigation by the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration into alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The suit alleges the defendants withheld $3,544.11 in employee contributions between 2005 and 2007 but never forwarded the assets to the retirement plan. The defendants also failed to forward $2,849.73 in matching employer contributions required by the plan over the same time period. Under the plan, employee contributions were to be matched dollar for dollar up to 1 percent of the employee's compensation.
"These defendants misused the funds entrusted to them by their employees and comingled the money with the assets of the company," said R.C. Marshall, EBSA's regional director in Atlanta, Ga.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida-Tampa Division, the suit seeks a court order to require the defendants to restore to the plan all losses plus lost interest and opportunity costs, require that individual plan accounts be offset against losses owed to the plan, permanently bar the defendants from serving as fiduciaries of any benefit plan subject to ERISA and appoint an independent fiduciary at the defendants' expense.
In June 2005, the magazine's retirement plan had five participants and assets of $2,252.
This case is part of EBSA's employee contribution project to safeguard workers' contributions to 401(k) and health benefit plans. Employers and workers can reach EBSA's Atlanta Regional Office at 404.302.3900 or toll-free at 866.444.3272 for help with problems relating to private sector retirement and health plans. Additional information can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa.
Solis v. Mary Elizabeth "Beth" Winkle
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