published on January 17, 2017 - 2:55 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
A former Fresno business CEO has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $500,000 from her firm’s pension plan.


Mary Williams, 70, of Fresno, was the CEO of Aeroplate Corp., an engineering and contracting firm. From June 2011 to November 2016, Williams pleaded guilty to embezzling from the firm’s pension plan that at one time included assets of Fresno real estate parcels valued at more than $900,00.

Under federal law, assets that belong to pension plans can only be used to fund the plan, which must pay future benefits to employees, and not the business that started the plan.

According to the plea agreement, Williams and the company used the properties to raise money for the company. Eventually, the company was unable to repay its loans, and the properties were foreclosed on. The fund became insolvent because it did not have enough money to pay expected benefit claims. However, the plan’s benefits are federally insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which protects employees from losing their benefits when their plans are insolvent.

Williams is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on April 3. Williams faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

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