A North Texas couple has been sentenced to more than 18 years combined in federal prison for their roles in a $15 million retirement plan embezzlement scheme, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.
Wendy Richie, 59, and her husband Jeffrey Richie, 55 live in Red Oak, Texas, which is about 20 minutes south of downtown Dallas. The two are co-owners of Vantage Benefits Administrators.
Wendy pleaded guilty in June to two counts of theft from an employee benefit plan and one count of aggravated identity theft.
She was sentenced Thursday to 132 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $12.6 million in restitution. Jeffrey pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting theft from an employee benefit plan. He was sentenced to 87 months and ordered to pay $7.4 million in restitution.
“These defendants lined their pockets at the expense of hardworking Americans saving for retirement,” said Cox.
The Richie’s company served as third party administrator for dozens of pension and retirement funds.
According to plea papers, Wendy admitted to using fund beneficiaries’ personal information to submit $15.2 million in fraudulent distribution requests to Matrix Trust, the funds’ custodian.
Instead of depositing the money into beneficiaries’ accounts, she transferred it into Vantage’s operating account and then into personal bank accounts.
After a Vantage employee confronted the Richies about their conduct, Wendy continued to embezzle money from the funds.
At least $6.2 million of the $15.2 million Wendy embezzled was taken with Jeffrey's knowledge, he admitted.
In total, the pair admitted to submitting more than 90 unauthorized distribution requests from 13 pension plans and seven retirement plans from 2014 and 2017.
"The Northern District of Texas is committed to seeking justice on behalf of vulnerable retirees and workers setting money aside for their golden years and beyond. We are proud to hold the Richies accountable for this brazen misconduct," Cox said.