What is it with company owners and their employee retirement funds? They’re like children with a big red button that says “Don’t Push Me!” and they just have to push it. The former owner of Songbird Trucking Company based out of Algood, Tennessee was arrested and indicted by a grand jury last week after allegedly stealing more than $20,000 from his company’s employee retirement fund and health insurance program.
William Michael Martin was deducting 401k payments and medical expenses from his employee’s paychecks and putting the money straight into his own pocket. Deputy District Attorney Tony Craighead said the case was brought to the Department of Labor when employees began complaining that they had no health insurance even though money was being withheld from their paychecks to pay for it.
The missing money and defrauded employees is frightening, but even more frightening is that the crimes took place back in 2008, and Martin was only JUST indicted. This huge lag time in between when a whistle is blown and when the courts get around to doing anything means that very few cases like this ever get reported. Employees are scared that if they do file a complaint, they will be fired and will be branded as a trouble-maker so they won’t be able to find a job elsewhere. Of course, there are labor laws in place to protect whistleblowers in this situation, but when a case as clear-cut as this takes 4 years to even get started, many people don’t have a whole lot of faith in the laws that are supposed to protect them.
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