Plumbers Benefit Plan Lawyer in Pennsylvania Indicted for Hiding Documents

Benefit managers for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520 may have been corrupt, but Charles W. Johnston wasn’t about to help anyone get to the bottom of it all. On April 12, a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania indicted Johnson, the Harrisburg union’s legal counsel, for withholding and concealing documents related to allegations of pension plan corruption made by a third party, PATH Administrators, against a previous administrator. The indictment, unsealed on May 7, follows an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Johnston, now 70, a resident of Camp Hill, Pa., during the period August 28, 2014-May 1, 2015, acted in his capacity as counsel for Plumbers Local 520 to thwart a probe that might have revealed whether mismanagement and fraud at the local pension plan had occurred. He allegedly withheld or concealed pertinent documents. The Harrisburg-based PATH Administrators initiated the probe by contacting federal authorities. Neither the company nor any of its employees were targets. “An important mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations of fraud affecting the employee benefit plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act,” said Richard Deer, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations.”