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US Labor Department sues defunct Portland, Maine, company and former owner to recover misused retirement plan assets
PORTLAND, Maine – The U.S. Department of Labor has sued Larry Chaney and his defunct company, CLRS Enterprises, of Portland for failing to forward approximately $11,000 in employee contributions withheld from employees’ paychecks to the company’s savings incentive match plan for employees individual retirement account, known as a SIMPLE IRA. The company formerly operated as Woodward Thomsen Co.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, followed an investigation by the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration into alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The suit alleges that defendants Chaney and CLRS withheld plan contributions from employee wages but failed to forward those contributions to the plan from Feb. 27, 2007, through Nov. 27, 2007. Instead, the defendants allegedly used the money to satisfy obligations of CLRS, which ceased operations in November 2008.
CLRS sponsored the plan to provide retirement benefits for employees of the company. Chaney, as sole owner of CLRS and a plan fiduciary, was the only individual with check-writing authority.
“These defendants failed in their fiduciary duties when they allowed plan assets to be used by the company that sponsored the plan,” said Edward Maloney, EBSA’s acting regional director in Boston, Mass. “ERISA requires that plan assets be used only for plan participants and beneficiaries.”
The suit asks the court to order the defendants to restore all losses with interest owed to the plan, undo any prohibited transactions and permanently prohibit Chaney from serving as a fiduciary to any ERISA-covered employee benefit plan in the future. In addition, the suit seeks to require that Chaney’s individual plan account be offset to cover the losses to the plan if necessary.
The case was investigated by EBSA’s Boston Regional Office. Employers and workers can contact EBSA at 617-565-9600 or toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with any problems relating to private sector pension and health plans. Additional information can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa.
Solis v. Larry Chaney
Civil Action Number: 10-CV-00460-DBH
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