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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 17, 2013

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A pension plan trustee was just convicted of 17 counts of wire fraud.

According to U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, Matthew Hutcheson, 41, from Eagle, Idaho was the trustee and fiduciary for three employer pension plans. His criminal activity ran from Jan. of 2010 to Dec. of 2010.

The Department of Justice’s press release states that Hutcheson misappropriated over $5 million while he served as a trustee and fiduciary. He used these stolen funds in order to repay his personal loans and buy luxury cars, motorcycles and even a tractor.

Record keepers actually inquired into the missing funds but Hutcheson assured them that they had been wisely and safely invested. In actuality, Hutcheson instructed that millions of dollars be wired from pension plans to escrow accounts under his control. He even used stolen funds in order to purchase a controlling interest in a gold course and resort.

Using his illegally filled accounts as collateral for a personal loan, Hutcheson borrowed almost a half million dollars. He later covered his tracks by producing fraudulent and forged financial documents that falsely proved he had loaned money to a holding company. This allayed the suspicions of an auditor who questioned him.

Each of the 17 counts of wire fraud carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison along with a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gain or loss from the criminal offense. The prosecution is seeking restitution in excess of $5 million including some of Hutcheson’s property.

Pamela Bearg, Public Information Officer and Secretary to the U.S. Attorney, told that Hutcheson was the only person charged in the indictment and that no other suspects seemed to have been involved in the crimes; exonerating any personnel that followed Hutcheson’s instructions to wire funds.

The criminal case was eventually investigated by the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration and the FBI. Bearg also said that the IRS was not involved in the investigation despite the highly financial nature of the crimes and the tax implications for robbed pensioners.

Sentencing is scheduled in Boise for July 23, 2013.

(Interview with Ms. Bearg conducted by Isaac Juarez)