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1 year after St. Pete company shutdown, employees can't access 401Ks

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

Almost a year after federal agents raided the company offices in St. Petersburg, some Universal Health Care employees are still dealing with financial fallout.

About 200 participants in the company’s 401K plan can’t access their money because it’s been frozen by Universal’s bankruptcy trustee.

“I want that money back,” said Jane Pellerin, a former Universal employee frustrated over delays in getting to the funds she had in the plan.

Pellerin’s account, which totaled more than $100,000 at the end of the year, included not just money she contributed during her time at Universal, but throughout the rest of her career as well.

Especially because of the way the company shut down – with federal agents on site – Pellerin and her husband are nervous about getting access to that money.

“It’s not in our custody,” Tim Pellerin said.

A benefits attorney advising the bankruptcy trustee on the 401K plan told News Channel 8 the money is safe, and it takes some time to “wind down” a 401K plan and arrange to let everyone get distributions of their money at the same time.

“The money is exactly where it was before the bankruptcy,” said attorney Roberta Casper Watson.

In this case, Watson said part of the delay came from dealing with an accounting issue that involved figuring out who made before-tax and who made after-tax contributions to the plan.

In addition to waiting, participants in the plan also have another unknown – how much they’ll have to pay in fees to those who’ve handled the 401K plan over the past year. The need to distribute those fees is one reason why everyone has to be given distributions at the same time, so the fees can be divided amongst participants, Watson said.

Watson said plan participants could get access to their funds within the next few months.

For tips on how to protect YOUR 401K, click under "Additional Links".

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.



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