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Former SAG pension plan executive pleads guilty to tax charge

A former chief information officer of the Screen Actors Guild’s Producers Pension and Health Plans has pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.

Nader Karimi, 51, of Los Angeles pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony count of filing a false tax return. The U.S. attorney’s office said Karimi failed to report income he received from contractors to upgrade the union’s computer system.

Over a four-year period, Karimi entered into agreements with vendors who were hired to modernize the PPHP’s computer system. The vendors had agreed to pay a portion of what they received from the union’s health and pension plans to a company affiliated with Karimi called Enterprise Technology and Management Services.

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The payments totaled $711,000. However, Karimi used the sums for personal expenses while not declaring them as income on his tax returns, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

In hearing before a U.S. district judge, Karimi admitted lying on his 2008 federal tax return by failing to report $454,666 in income, according to a plea agreement. He has agreed to file amended tax returns and make an additional restitution payment of $100,000 to PPHP.

“Individuals entrusted with the pension and health care funds of others must be held to the highest standard of conduct,” U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker said in a statement.  “The Department of Justice will do everything within its power to bring to justice those who abuse a position of trust for personal gain.”

A judge is scheduled to sentence Karimi on March 11. He faces a maximum of three years in federal prison.

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A spokeswoman for SAG-AFTRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Karimi left his job in early 2009 and reached a settlement with the plans for an undisclosed amount. Karimi could not be reached for comment.

After an audit in early 2009, PPHP sued two vendors involved in alleged kickback payments to Karimi. In one of the cases, an arbitrator awarded the plans nearly $2.5 million in damages, which a court approved. The plans said most of the money was recovered from an insurance claim.

Allegations of wrongdoing by Karimi came to light in 2011 when Craig Simmons, the former human resources director for the organization, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor. Simmons alleged that he was wrongfully terminated by his boss, Bruce Dow, for blowing the whistle on Karimi’s activities.

Dow denied the allegations but resigned in April 2012 amid growing questions about the lack of financial controls at the plans.

Twitter: @rverrier

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