Ex-homebuilder pleads to theft from employee benefit plan

Staff Reports • Updated Mar 2, 2014 at 1:47 PM

NASHVILLE – Nicholas Psillas, 58, of Houston, Texas and formerly of Franklin, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to theft from an employee benefit plan, according to David Rivera, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

 Psillas was indicted in April 2012 and faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and a term of three years of supervised release.  He will be sentenced June 13.

 According to the plea agreement, Psillas was the president and owner of Corinthian Custom Homes in Franklin.  In January 2005, Psillas established a 401(k) plan for CCH employees, of which he was the trustee.  Eligible employee participants contributed funds to the plan, which were deducted from their bi-weekly compensation. CCH was responsible for making mandatory “safe harbor” contributions, required by the plan. 

CCH was also required to remit employee contributions and safe harbor contributions to a financial institution, which was responsible for managing the funds through employee-directed investments.

From about March 2006 through October 2007, instead of remitting the contributions as required, Psillas converted to his own use about $62,529 in employee contributions and $22,366 in safe harbor contributions, Rivera said. Psillas allowed funds to be withheld from participating employees’ paychecks and then to be deposited into and comingled with the company’s general operating account, which he used for his personal use and the use of CCH, according to Rivera. 

Rivera said Psillas’s failure to make the required remittance for the employee and safe harbor contributions resulted in lost earnings of more than $12,000.

The U.S. Department of Labor investigated the case. Assistant U.S. attorney Kathryn Ward Booth served as prosecutor. 

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