Law firm ordered to repay pension, retirement funds
Former Savannah attorney Benjamin S. Eichholz
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -
Savannah attorney Benjamin S. Eichholz and the Eichholz Law Firm P.C. have been
ordered to restore losses and interest to the firm's retirement and pension
order comes after a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor, after an
investigation was conducted by the DOL's Employee Benefits Security Administration.
investigation found that Eichholz and his firm violated the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act and resulted in losses to the plans of more than $1 million,
according to the DOL.
the judge's order, Eichholz and his mother, Harriet B. Eichholz, forfeited
their right to any cash benefits from the plans.
and the firm will restore $15,053 to the plans and transfer $32,206 in plan
assets to an independent fiduciary, according to the Dept. of Labor.
December 2009, Eichholz pleaded guilty to obstructing EBSA's investigation. He
was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $50,117
to the plans, according to the DOL.
lawsuit was filed in 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District
of Georgia-Savannah Division.
accused the defendants of improperly transferring and lending plan assets to
prohibited individuals or organizations, such as the firm, Eichholz, his former
wife, and companies he owned or controlled.
judgment also permanently bars Eichholz and the firm from acting as fiduciaries
of any plan subject to ERISA, it appointed an independent fiduciary to
administer the plans, and it requires the defendants to reimburse the plan for
those fees and expenses, according to a DOL news release.
independent fiduciary has taken over the plans' assets and is responsible distributing
them to the participants and beneficiaries.
and the firm must also pay a civil penalty equal to 20 percent of the
applicable recovery amount.