Mathison's closes after owners accused in U.S. District Court of mishandling company 401(k) and ESOP plans

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FARGO — Mathison's, a printing business founded here in 1958, appears to have closed, and its owners have been accused in U.S. District Court with mishandling the company's 401(k) and ESOP plans.

In July of 2015, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez filed suit against Mathison Company, Marilyn Anstett, Paul Anstett, Mathison Company Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Mathison Company 401(k) plan.

Marilyn Anstett was described as vice president and acting plan administrator, and Paul Anstett was listed as president and trustee to the 401(k) plan and ESOP. The suit alleged the Anstetts:

• Failed to ensure that all employee contributions and loan repayments withheld from employees' wages were remitted to the 401(k) plan in a timely manner, or at all.

• Allowed the withheld wages to be used for expenses unrelated to the 401(k) plan.

• Allowed loans against the plan to be in default and failed to require repayment of loan principal and interest.

• Failed to obtain fidelity bond coverage on the plan, as required.

• Dealt with the assets of the plan in their own interests or for their own accounts.

Later in 2015, Mathison's sold their building at 1213 NP Ave. to Kilbourne Group and moved the business to 3911 37th Ave. S. Terms of the purchase were not released, but the property was appraised at $673,100 at the time.

In a judgment filed March 1, 2016, the defendants were ordered to make restitution in the amount of $14,066.34 to 20 affected employees enrolled in the company's 401(k) plan. A payment of $3,000 was to be made no later than Feb. 29, 2016, and payments of $1,500 were to be made every two weeks after that until the full amount was restored.

They were also given guidelines for paying out distributions from the company's ESOP plan. The defendants were also required to provide their home, located at 1019 9th St. S., Fargo, as security on amounts owed to ESOP participants while monthly installment payments were being made.

Court records indicate the Anstetts may be in default of that settlement. On Jan. 22, 2018, R. Alexander Acosta, the current secretary of labor, filed an order for the defendants to show why they should not be held in contempt for failure to comply. According to court documents, the defendants still owe $8,066 to 401(k) plan participants. They are also overdue in paying out ESOP distributions.

A response filed in U.S. District Court Feb. 5 confirmed Mathison Company is no longer in business. It also revealed how the Anstetts hope to pay monies owed their former employees.

The response stated that it is believed proceeds from the sale of the Anstett's home in Fargo "should be able to pay the estimated $150,000 (+ or -) arising out the subject matter of the consent judgment." The couple also has an estimated $400,000 in equity in a lake cottage that may also be used to assure payment of ESOP participants and/or 401(k) parties.

According to the response, Alicia A. W. Truman, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor, was apprised of the Anstett's intentions in a phone call Feb. 2 and agreed to give the couple a period of 30 days "to resolve any issues without further need for court involvement."

Messages left at the Fargo store and with the Anstett's attorney, Jonathan T. Garaas, were not returned.