The former chief information technology officer at the SAG Pension and Health Plans, who pleaded guilty to tax fruad was sentenced today to five years’ probation. Nader Karimi pleaded guilty in November to filing a false income tax return in which he failed to report more than $700,000 in kickbacks he received from contractors he hired to upgrade the Plans’ computer system.
U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Olguin also ordered Karimi to serve eight months of home detention with electronic monitoring and pay $208,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. U.S. Attorney Angela Davis had asked for a year and a day in federal prison, but the U.S. Probation Office had recommended that he serve no jail time.
“I can’t begin to say how ashamed and sorry I am,” Karimi said before the sentencing. “I let everyone down. I have asked God for forgiveness, and I humbly ask your honor for forgiveness as well. I am deeply aware of my mistakes. I swear I’ll never make any crimes again.”
Karimi’s attorney Sara Azari called him a “model citizen” whose “fall from grace” was due to a mental illness. The courtroom was about half-full with his friends and family.
Karimi was at the center of an alleged multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme that led to the downfall of Bruce Dow, the Plans’ longtime chief administrator. Dow, who has not been charged with a crime, fired Karimi in 2009 after discovering that he’d been taking kickbacks from outside tech venders to whom he’d awarded lucrative contracts.
“Karimi entered into agreements with vendors that agreed to pay a portion of the money they received from Plans to a company affiliated with Karimi, Enterprise Technology and Management Services,” the US Attorney’s office said. “The payments to ETMS totaled $711,000, and Karimi used the sums for personal expenses while not declaring them as income on his tax returns.”
Dow resigned in 2012 after Craig Simmons, the Plans’ former executive director of human resources, accused him of covering up Karimi’s kickback scheme, a charge Dow vehemently denied. That case was settled in a confidential arbitration in 2014.
When Simmons was fired, he sued the Plans, and during his deposition, Dow testified that he first learned of Karimi’s kickback scheme in the spring of 2009. Dow said it had been difficult to determine exactly how much Karimi had stolen, but testified it could have been as much as $3 million. The Plans have received more than $2.5 million from its insurers to recoup part of the loss.