Farm supply firm ordered to pay into company plan

March 27, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

HAGERSTOWN - A Hagerstown-based farm supply company has agreed under a consent judgment obtained by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay more than $100,000 to the company's profit-sharing plan.

The department said the company failed to make mandatory contributions to its employee pension plan more than a decade ago.

Paramount Feed & Supply Inc., of 19310 Longmeadow Road, agreed under the March 19 consent judgment to restore $113,337 to the plan, according to a Labor Department news release. The department alleged in a civil suit, filed in federal District Court in Baltimore, that Paramount failed to monitor the trustee of the plan, who permitted mandatory contributions to go uncollected during a period of two years.

The company would not comment on the judgment Friday.

Paramount's profit-sharing plan covered 30 participants and had $223,697 in assets, according to the department. The department did not specify when it last checked the company's assets.


Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in the news release it was the company's responsibility to protect benefit plans and the assets of its employees. The department did not name the trustee responsible for the shortfall.

The department's Employee Benefits Security Administration, based in Washington, investigated the case, according to the news release.

Gloria Della, public affairs director for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, said the consent judgment is of great importance to all employees of the company.

"Retirement income is supposed to be there when people get to the end of the road," Della said.

Della said Paramount did not monitor its trustee in 1992 and 1993, the years required employer contributions were not put into the trust fund. She said the trustee was not named in court documents.

Della declined to release specific information on how the shortfall was discovered. She said the administration usually depends on tips to the customer service line from employees, tips from news reporters and audits of financial reports conducted by the administration for such investigations.

Della said Paramount was not ordered to pay any penalties on top of replenishing the funds missing from the plan pool.

A Paramount spokesman could not be reached for comment by telephone on Thursday.

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