A federal judge has ordered a Savannah, Georgia-based law firm to restore the rest of more than $1 million in assets that were improperly transferred from its employee retirement and pension plans.
Eichholz Law Firm P.C. and former Managing Partner Benjamin Eichholz breached their fiduciary responsibilities under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by improperly transferring and lending plan assets to prohibited recipients, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia ruled on Jan. 16.
Under terms of the court's order, Eichholz and the law firm will be required to restore $15,053 to the plans and transfer $32,206 to an independent fiduciary, plus post-judgment interest payments until the losses are repaid in full.
Eichholz previously was ordered to pay $50,117 in restitution to the plans as a result of his conviction on charges of obstructing a federal investigation in 2009, according to a statement from the U.S. Employee Benefits Security Administration.
"Workers deserve to reap the full benefits of their hard-earned retirement savings," Isabel Colon, EBSA's regional director in Atlanta, said in the statement. "This agency is committed to taking action on behalf of workers when plan fiduciaries fail in their duty to act solely in the interest of the participants."
Eichholz and the firm also are required to pay a civil penalty equal to 20 percent of the total restoration amount.