US Labor Department resolves lawsuit to restore $138K owed to employee benefit plan of Chicago ophthalmologist Nicholas C. Caro

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Date of Action: Dec. 8, 2016

Type of Action: Employee Retirement Income Security Act lawsuit

Names of Defendants: Nicholas C. Caro
N.C. Caro M.D., S.C.
N.C. Caro M.D., S.C. Defined Benefit Plan

Findings: An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration found that Caro, a fiduciary to the N.C. Caro M.D., S.C. Defined Benefit Plan violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Chicago-based ophthalmologist Caro liquidated $263,951 from the plan’s investment accounts and transferred the funds to accounts held in his own name, accounts held in the name of a former medical practice, various accounts, including some accounts held by parties in interest. The transferred funds were used to pay for – among other things – the medical practice’s operating expenses, and were not used to provide benefits to the plan’s participants or beneficiaries. Caro then filed for individual Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in Illinois on July 15, 2011, and sought to discharge his debt to the plan.

In 2011, the department filed a lawsuit to recover funds owed to the defined benefit plan and to determine dischargeability of debt under Caro’s bankruptcy case.

On July 16, 2016, Caro restored $138,567 in restitution from non-bankruptcy estate assets to the clerk of the court for restitution to plan participants pursuant to a judgment entered in the criminal proceeding captioned USA v. Nicholas C. Caro, Case No. 12 CR 891 (N.D. Ill.). Excluding the percentage amount of principal benefits owed to Caro and one other employee who received her benefit, the restitution was sufficient to resolve his civil liability to the plan.

Resolution: The consent order and judgment permanently enjoins Caro from violating ERISA and from serving as a fiduciary or service provider to any ERISA-covered plans in the future.

Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Chicago  1:11-cv-06884

Employers and workers can reach EBSA toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems related to private sector retirement and health plans. Additional information can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa.

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