Brandi Stephens thought she was too clever to be caught. It was a poor guess. This past Tuesday, May 15, the U.S. Department of Labor announced it had entered into a consent agreement with Stephens, former administrator for the welfare and pension plan of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Iron Workers Local 92, that barred her from acting in any capacity on behalf of the plan. This past December, in a separate criminal case, she had been sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months of home confinement and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $45,896 in restitution. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.
According to prosecutors, Stephens operated a variety of schemes. She altered her paychecks by increasing the amount due to her; diverted additional payroll and expense account checks by substituting her name for the names of the rightful payees; entered false information on pay stubs; and made fraudulent entries in Local 92 financial records to conceal the thefts. At the December sentencing, EBSA Atlanta Regional Director Isabel Colon said: “Theft from retirement plans and pensions has significant adverse effects on the livelihood and peace of mind of workers. Our Department takes these actions seriously and will continue to investigate any action that threatens retirement benefits workers have earned.” And upon the announcement of the consent decree days ago, EBSA Deputy Director Lawrence Thompson stated, “The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to press any legal opportunity to ensure employees retain what they have rightfully earned.”