Virginia Beach business owner pleads guilty to embezzling from pension fund

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The owner and president of a Virginia Beach heating and air conditioning business pleaded guilty Thursday to using money from an employee pension fund to cover the company’s operating costs.

Freedom Mechanical Inc. owner Harry Paul Jr., 65, of Grandy, N.C., pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $47,000.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the company had an employee-funded benefit retirement plan that, during the period of April 2013 through June 2016, Paul illegally used during a difficult time for the company.

According to court documents, W-3 statements transmitted by Freedom Mechanical included an amount for “deferred compensation,” which falsely represented employee contributions. Paul also failed to make the employer contributions promised in the plan, court documents said.

Paul faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on March 7, 2017.

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