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News Brief

Owner of former company in Emeryville, California, convicted of grand theft in 401(k) retirement funds case investigated by US Department of Labor

Date of action: May 26, 2015

Type of action: Criminal Conviction and Sentence

Name of defendant: Lance Silva

Allegations: Lance Silva was the former owner of the National Upholstering Company, Inc. The company sponsored a 401(k) plan for its employees with Silva serving as trustee. Following complaints from plan participants, a U.S. Labor Department investigation found that Silva abused his position as trustee to misappropriate $43,380 from participant accounts for his own benefit, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Specifically, between September and November 2011, Silva posed as four different 401(k) plan participants and altered account and contact information to improperly obtain distributions from employee 401(k) accounts. This case was investigated as part of the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Contributory Plans Criminal Project. The department contacted local prosecutors and Silva was charged with 12 criminal counts by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in Oakland, California, alleging grand theft and identity theft, in violation of California law. In February 2015, Silva pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft [Superior Court of California, Alameda County, Docket No. 461281].

Resolution: On May 26, the State of California, Alameda County criminal court convicted and sentenced Lance Silva to six-months imprisonment and five years of probation. Judge Dan Grimmer also ordered Silva to pay $43,380 to the four affected 401(k) account participants, stay away from them and pay an additional $740 in penalties and fines. A civil complaint against Lance Silva, National Upholstering Company, Inc., and the National Upholstering Company 401(k) Plan is still ongoing. [U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Docket No. 4:15-cv-01771-KAW]

Criminal Case Court: Superior Court of California, Alameda County

Docket Number: H57207

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Employee Benefits Security Administration
June 8, 2015
Release Number
15-1141-SAN (SF-48)