OAKLAND LAWFUEL – US Law Newswire – United States Attorney Scott N…

OAKLAND LAWFUEL – US Law Newswire – United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that James W. James of San Leandro, was sentenced to 6 months prison and 6 months home detention Friday, April 6, 2007 for his guilty plea to two counts of Embezzlement in Connection with a Health Care Benefit Program, one count of Embezzlement of an Employee Benefit Plan, and two counts of False Statements and Concealment of Facts in Relation to Documents Required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). Defendant James also was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and $179,000 restitution. While employed by the United Association of Plumbers Local 159 (“UA Local 159”), James embezzled $179,000 intended for union employees’ benefit plans into accounts in his name. These charges are the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”), Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to the plea agreement, Mr. James, 52, embezzled this money while employed as the Third Party Administrator for the UA Local 159. He accomplished this by directing a bank employee to wire transfer $150,000 intended for union employees’ Health and Welfare Plan to an account in his name at Deutsche Banc Alex Brown in Maryland. Later he directed another $29,000 intended for the union employees’ Defined Contribution Plan, a type of pension plan, to be wired to an investment account he had at Marner Numismatics, LTD. James then altered the bank account statements that reflected these illegal transfers to make it appear that the money had gone to the intended union employee benefit plans.

The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen following a guilty plea on five counts in violation of Embezzlement in Connection with a Health Care Benefit Program, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 669, Embezzlement of Employee Benefit Plan, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 664, False Statements and Concealment of Facts in Relation to Documents Required by ERISA. Judge Jensen also sentenced the defendant to a 3 year period of supervised release. Defendant is to begin serving his jail sentence on June 6, 2007.

The plea agreement disqualifies Mr. James for his lifetime from serving in any fiduciary, consulting, or employment position described in 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq., including specifically any positions described in 29 U.S.C. § 1111. In the plea agreement, the defendant agreed that (1) this lifetime bar shall not be contested for any reason; (2) he shall seek no relief from such debarment; and (3) he understands that such lifetime bar prohibits him from serving, or being permitted to serve, any employee benefit plan governed by ERISA in any of the following positions and/or capacities: (A) as an administrator, fiduciary, officer, trustee, custodian, counsel, agent, employee or any type of representative in any capacity on any employee benefit plan governed by ERISA; (B) as a consultant or adviser to any employee benefit plan governed by ERISA, whether for compensation or otherwise; and (C) in any capacity that involves decision-making authority or custody or control of the monies, funds, assets or property of any employee benefit plan governed by ERISA.

Maureen Bessette is the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Cynthia Daniel. The prosecution is the result of a three year investigation by the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”), Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

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