Former SAG Pension and Health Plans Exec Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Nader Karimi, former chief information officer for the SAG Pension & Health Plans, has pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return in which he failed to report income of $711,316 during 2005 through 2008.

Karimi entered a change of plea from not guilty to guilty as part of a plea agreement on Nov. 12 before U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Olguin in Los Angeles. Sentencing has been set for March 11.

The maximum sentence is three years in federal prison. The agreement calls for Karimi to file amended returns for the four tax years, cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service, pay the IRS a total of $194,459 and make an additional restitution payment of at least $100,000 to the plans.

Karimi, who has been an executive at BCBG Max Azria Group, did not respond to a request for comment.

During 2005 through 2009, he was chief information officer for the SAG plans, which are operated independently of the union and overseen by a board that’s comprised of equal numbers of representatives of employers and of the union. His duties included modernization of the plans computer information and technology systems.

Karimi was also an officer during that time at Entertainment Technology and Management Solutions and was responsible for causing the plans to enter into contracts and work agreements with ETMS. “Defendant caused these payments to ETMS to be deposited in the ETMS bank account, after which defendant used the sums to pay for personal expenses,” the plea agreement said.

Allegations against Karimi emerged in 2011 when fired plan exec Craig E. Simmons filed a complaint with the federal government asserting that he was terminated for acting as a whistleblower about alleged embezzlement at the fund by Karimi. Simmons also filed a wrongful termination suit against the plans, accusing the plans’ longtime CEO Bruce Dow of covering up the embezzlement.

Dow retired in 2012. Simmons’ suit was settled in arbitration in 2014.

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

The investigation into the embezzlement allegations was conducted by U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and its Employee Benefits Security Administration; the IRS; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The SAG and AFTRA health and pension plans have continued to operate separately, nearly four years after members of SAG and AFTRA voted to merge the performers unions. The merger was touted as a way to merge the health and retirement plans, but efforts to do so have not been successful.

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