Man is indicted in 401(k) fraud

Times Staff Writer

A Northern California man has been indicted by a San Francisco grand jury on charges of embezzling from his now-defunct company's 401(k) plan.

James P. Winzler of Brentwood is accused of taking $107,000 out of the plan maintained by GKO & Associates, an engineering firm that had offices in San Francisco and Hawaii.

Winzler is former president of the company, which once had 33 participants in its 401(k).

The departments of Labor and Justice could not say whether employees would recover their money.

The Labor Department previously filed a civil claim against Winzler and two GKO officers, ordering the return of $142,578. The department won a default judgment in May against Winzler, who did not defend himself.

Two other defendants in the civil case -- Gregg Okamitsu and Yan Kam-Wing -- agreed to settle with the Labor Department by giving up a portion of their retirement plan assets to satisfy other workers' claims if Winzler could not. Neither Okamitsu nor Yan has been indicted.

Winzler had filed a personal bankruptcy petition in December 2004, but the petition was dismissed when he failed to make required disclosures, according to court filings.

The Labor Department has a lien on Winzler's Honolulu condominium, which was listed with a $600,000 value in his bankruptcy filing. It was his only significant asset, according to the bankruptcy filing.

The maximum statutory penalty for stealing from an employee benefit plan is five years in prison, plus restitution and a $250,000 fine, according to the Justice Department.

Calls to Winzler's home were not returned.


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