Former Fresno Business CEO Pleads Guilty to Embezzling over $500,000 from Pension Plan
FRESNO, Calif. — Mary Williams, 70, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to embezzling from a pension plan, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Williams was the Chief Executive Officer of Aeroplate Corporation, an engineering and contracting firm in Fresno. From June 2011 to November 2016, Williams embezzled approximately $509,000 from a pension plan that Aeroplate established for its employees. One of the fund’s assets was a set of real estate parcels in Fresno that at one point was appraised at over $900,000 in value.
Under federal law, assets that belong to pension plans can only be used to fund the plan, which must pay future benefits to employees, and not the business that started the plan.
According to the plea agreement, Williams and the company used the properties to raise money for the company. Eventually, the company was unable to repay its loans, and the properties were foreclosed on. The fund became insolvent because it did not have enough money to pay expected benefit claims. However, the plan’s benefits are federally insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which protects employees from losing their benefits when their plans are insolvent.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael G. Tierney is prosecuting the case.
Williams is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on April 3, 2017. Williams faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.