Neuroscience Center Pension Plan Fiduciary Settles ERISA Dispute

Under DOL scrutiny, the Illinois-based employer has agreed to restore nearly $420,000 to its defined benefit pension plan.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has entered into an agreement with the fiduciaries of the Neuroscience Center LLC Defined Benefit Pension Plan, with the firm consenting to restore $419,758 to the plan.

According to a DOL statement, the agreed-upon restoration is part of a consent judgment approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The settlement follows an investigation by the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) that found violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by fiduciary and sole trustee Steven Devore Best. According to the DOL statement, EBSA investigators found Best used monies from the plan for the Neuroscience Center LLC’s operating expenses, funded other companies he owns, and made personal loans to himself. All of these actions, DOL says, were taken in direct violation of ERISA. Best conducted most of the unauthorized transactions in 2014 and 2015.

“Our investigation and the settlement that followed restores hard-earned retirement benefits to employees and protects their future,” says Employee Benefits Security Administration Regional Director Jeffrey Monhart, in Chicago. “This case should remind all fiduciaries that they must work solely in the interest of plans and participants.”

The consent judgment enjoins Best and the Neuroscience Center LLC from serving as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan subject to ERISA in the future. The court ordered the restored monies to be allocated to participants’ pension accounts, with the exception of Best’s own account, and appointed an independent fiduciary to distribute benefits to eligible participants.