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Federal Court Sentences Kentucky Business Owner for Improper Use of Benefit Plans’ Contributions After U.S. Department Labor Investigation
LEXINGTON, KY – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky has sentenced Aaron Jamison – founder, owner and president of Micah Group LLC and Micah Group Environmental Contractors Inc. – to 36 months in prison, 36 months of supervised release, pay a $300 special assessment and ordered restitution in the amount of $640,638, of which $2,758 was related to unremitted health insurance premiums. Prior to his sentencing, Jamison fully repaid all of the 401(k) participants $32,317 in unremitted contributions.
The court’s action follows Jamison’s January 2020 guilty plea to one count of theft from an employee benefit plan, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and unlawful storage of hazardous waste material.
EBSA found that – between March 4, 2016 and Oct. 30, 2016 – Jamison withheld $32,317 in employee contributions from their paychecks and failed to remit the withheld contributions to the Micah Group 401(k) profit-sharing plan. In addition to diverting those contributions for his and his companies’ uses, the agency also found from April 2, 2017, to April 28, 2017, Jamison failed to pay pre-tax health plan contributions – which Jamison withheld from employees’ paychecks – to the Micah Group Health Plan, as required.
“Criminal acts like this directly impact participants in employee benefit plans by compromising their hard-earned benefits and eroding confidence in those chosen to manage their trust. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration is committed to ensuring the integrity of employee benefit programs,” said Employee Benefits Security Administration Regional Director Joe Rivers, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Prior to his sentencing, Jamison pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and unlawful storage of hazardous waste. The investigation found that between Feb. 9, 2004, and March 31, 2016, Jamison conspired with others to commit mail fraud and knowingly intended to defraud the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC).
Those charges were filed after separate investigations found Jamison and his employees certified that underground storage wells were remediated when, in fact, they were not. Jamison knew the wells were abandoned improperly, but signed claims request forms, handled correspondence with EEC representatives regarding payments for the abandoned wells and used interstate wires or mail to do so. In addition, between January 2016 and December 2017, Micah Group received payments to transport hazardous waste to a licensed disposal facility. The defendant knew that he had failed to pay outstanding invoices to an approved disposal facility, and that the disposal facility was not accepting any hazardous waste from Micah Group. Jamison directed the hazardous waste to be stored at the Micah Group facility while knowing his company lacked the required permits to store hazardous waste.
EBSA’s Cincinnati Regional Office conducted the investigation in cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its Criminal Investigation Division, Office of Inspector General and the Kentucky EEC. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Kentucky, prosecuted the case.
Employers and workers can reach EBSA toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems related to private sector retirement and health plans. Additional information can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa.
EBSA’s mission is to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America's workers and their families. EBSA accomplishes this mission by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.