A federal judge has ordered Mary Clark, president of Columbus, Ohio-based Clark Graphics, to restore more than half a million dollars to the company’s two employee retirement plans. Marcia Dowdell, the president of Pension Retirement Planning, who served as administrator for the plans, also was ordered to restore funds.
The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against the company after the Employee Benefits Security Administration conducted an investigation and found that the company’s plans had insufficient oversight and there was mishandling of plan assets resulting in multiple violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
The suit alleged that the company’s owners failed in their fiduciary responsibilities as plan trustees by neglecting to monitor the actions of the plans’ administrator. They also failed to review and reconcile the plans’ trust account statements, review participant distribution calculations and require the administrator to issue participant statements. Dowdell also failed to maintain accurate records for participants in both plans so some participants have not received the correct retirement benefits.
“Employers that sponsor retirement plans have a fiduciary duty to monitor plan assets and ensure they are handled appropriately and protected,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. “Contracting with an outside firm to manage those assets does not absolve them of their legal responsibilities. Congress made it clear long ago that money set aside for retirement is much too important to mishandle, abuse or neglect, and enacted strict protections with respect to workers’ hard-earned savings.”
Mary Clark was ordered by the judge to restore $142,797 to the Clark Graphics Defined Benefit Plan and $362,754 to the Clark Graphics Profit Sharing Plan. The judgment also permanently enjoins Mary and James Clark from serving as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan subject to ERISA.
Dowdell has been ordered to restore $425,587 to the profit sharing plan, less any payments made by other defendants. She also was ordered to restore $142,797 to the defined benefit plan, less any payments made by other defendants.
She can no longer serve as a fiduciary or service provider to any ERISA-covered plan in the future. Her company, Pension Retirement Planning, provided third-party record-keeping services to as many as 51 ERISA-covered pension plans during the decade leading up to 2010, when it ceased operations.