Description: Seattle, Washington criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing more than $200,000 from a union member’s account and other plans.
Erik A. Read, age 52, from Tacoma, Washington who worked as a Third Party Administrator for union health and welfare and pension plans was indicted for stealing more than $200,000 from a union member's account and other plans.
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". Judge Martinez
“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records, forged signatures, and doctored a driver’s license to make it appear that the victim wanted his funds withdrawn from the fund to pay for medical treatment for a terminal illness.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.
Wire Fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028, which provides:
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.
Aggravated Fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028, which provides:
(a) Whoever, in a circumstance described in subsection (c) of this section—
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(3) knowingly possesses with intent to use unlawfully or transfer unlawfully five or more identification documents (other than those issued lawfully for the use of the possessor), authentication features, or false identification documents;
Outcome: Count 1:
12 months in custody, 3 years supervised release (standard and special conditions including restitution-see judgment), $100 special assessment, fine waived
24 months in custody, 3 years supervised release (standard and special conditions including restitution-see judgment), $100 special assessment, fine waived