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Press Release

Tacoma man sentenced to three years in prison for defrauding union retirement plans

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
While serving as Third Party Administrator, stole the retirement funds of commercial painter who had paid into plan

Seattle – A 52-year-old resident of Tacoma who worked as a Third Party Administrator for union health and welfare and pension plans was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to three years in prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing more than $200,000 from a union member’s account and other plans, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Erik A. Read was indicted in April 2022 and pleaded guilty in March 2023. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said, Read “had a position of trust that he utilized to steal money…. This was not a onetime event…. he put together an elaborate scheme to steal money.”

“Mr. Read used his specialized knowledge to steal the money a commercial painter had paid into his pension plan, hoping his theft would go undetected,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gorman. “Read’s conduct was a highly detailed scheme involving forged records, fake IDs, and lies to colleagues. It didn’t just harm the victim financially, it also created great stress when the worker saw his pension vanish.”

According to records filed in the case, Read worked as a third party administrator for three different union plans from which he improperly diverted funds: the Western Washington Painter Defined Contribution Pension Plan, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 191 Health and Welfare Plan, as well as the Washington State Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry Plan.

Court records detail how he stole from the account of one of the members of the painters’ union – a person who was listed as a “missing participant,” meaning he was no longer actively participating in the plan. Between April 2018 and May 2019, Read falsified records, forged signatures, and doctored a driver’s license to make it appear that the victim wanted his funds withdrawn from the fund to pay for medical treatment for a terminal illness. Read claimed to his coworkers that he was going to deliver the checks by hand to the victim and his family. In fact, Read deposited the checks into his own bank account. Even as he was earning $150,000 a year, he was improperly taking funds from the pension plans that he worked on. Read has agreed to pay $294,251 to the victim pension plans or their insurers.

In asking for a four-year prison term, prosecutor Brian Wynne wrote to the court, “While the financial impacts of Read’s crimes were great, the non-financial impacts on both individuals Read worked for and on behalf of are unquantifiable. The impacts include the stress on (one victim) upon learning his retirement had been stolen and his efforts to recoup it. The impacts also include the stress experienced by Read’s colleagues who unwittingly helped Read carry out the fraud and the stress and managerial impacts on the trusts whose plans Read administered.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sok Tea Jiang, Brian J. Wynne, and Jehiel I. Baer.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated July 7, 2023

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft