The owners of a Glendale post-production house pleaded guilty on Tuesday to embezzling from their employees' retirement plan and failing to pay taxes.
Ronald Burdett, 75, and Karen Burdett, 70, of Shadow Hills, entered the plea before U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The couple faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of at least $500,000 when sentenced in March by Feess.
The Burdetts were owners of Sunset Post Inc., Sunset Digital Studios Inc., and Sunset Teleproduction Center, all in Glendale. The couple were trustees for the employee retirement benefit plan and starting in 2006, they had stopped putting employee contributions into the plan, according to a release from the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service.
The Burdetts were alleged by the IRS to have embezzled $102,327 from the plan. In addition, between September 1996 and July 2007, the Burdetts failed to pay $971,000 in withheld trust fund taxes.
The Burdetts withdrew $585,000 from the primary bank account of their business and used the funds to pay bills, make retail purchases and improve their Shadow Hills home, according to the IRS.
“Employees count on the funds deducted from their paychecks to help fund their retirement,” said Crisanta Johnson, director of the U.S. Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration in Los Angeles, in a prepared statement. “No employee should have their hard-earned retirement contributions diverted to run the company or pay an employer’s personal expenses.”