Nader Karimi, the former chief information officer for the SAG Pension & Health Plans who was at the center of an alleged multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme, has pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return in which he failed to report income of more than $700,000 he received from contractors hired to upgrade the Plans’ computer system.
Karimi pleaded guilty to the felony on Thursday before U.S. District Court Judge Fernando Olguin, admitting that he lied about his 2008 federal tax return that failed to report $454,666 in income. Over the course of the years 2005 through 2008, he failed to report approximately $711,000 in taxable income, according to the plea agreement.
Sentencing is set for March 11, 2016. Karimi, who is currently the CIO at the BCBG Max Azria fashion house, faces up to three years in federal prison. He did not return calls for comment.
Karimi was fired from the Plans in 2009 for allegedly taking kickbacks from outside tech vendors to whom he’d awarded lucrative contracts. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, “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 payments to ETMS totaled $711,000, and Karimi used the sums for personal expenses while not declaring them as income on his tax returns.”
The alleged embezzlement scheme brought down the Plans’ longtime CEO, Bruce Dow, who resigned in 2012 after Craig Simmons, the Plans’ former executive director of human resources, accused him of covering up Karimi’s alleged embezzlement, a charge Dow vehemently denied. That case was settled in confidential arbitration in fall 2014.
When Simmons was fired, he sued the Plans, and during his deposition, Dow told how he came to discover Karimi’s actions which took place in the spring of 2009. Dow said it had been difficult to determine exactly how much Karimi had allegedly embezzled, 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.
Karimi’s conviction was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General; the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration; IRS Criminal Investigation; and the FBI.