The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a default judgment against a practice and a dentist who unlawfully withdrew more than $85,000 of employees’ retirement funds, preventing the workers from accessing their savings.
On January 2, the court ruled in favor the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and against Dr. Paul Fillet and his business, finding him liable to pay $85,260 in losses to the retirement plan, $14,891 in lost opportunity income to the plan, and $1,685 for the independent fiduciary costs and fees, according to a press release dated January 29 from the DOL.
The court ordered the dentist and his practice to restore the money plus interest accrued to the retirement plan by March 4. Also, the court permanently banned Fillet from serving as a fiduciary of any Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-covered employee benefit plan, according to the release.
On January 12, 2023, the regional solicitor of labor in San Francisco filed a complaint following an investigation by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) that determined Fillet violated ERISA after withdrawing over $85,000 from the retirement plan and using the funds for nonplan purposes. After withdrawing the funds, Fillet abandoned the plan. His actions purportedly prevented two employees from accessing about $160,000 in retirement funds, according to the release.
ERISA requires that fiduciaries operate employee benefit plans only in participants’ and beneficiaries’ interests.
Fillet closed his practice in April 2020, and his whereabouts are unknown. Since Fillet has been unresponsive to the EBSA, the agency is requesting that anyone who knows his whereabout to call (415) 625-2481.