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FORMER AMHERST PRINTING FIRM ADMITS EMBEZZLING PENSION FUNDS

An Amherst printing company that collapsed into bankruptcy admitted embezzling $43,087 from two employee pension plans, federal authorities said Monday.

The company, Manhardt-Alexander, formerly of 400 Creekside Drive, closed last November and has been liquidated. But the retirement plan money has been restored, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The company admitted that it did not remit money deducted from employee paychecks for contributions to the Graphic Communications International Union Interlocal Pension Fund and the Manhardt-Alexander savings plan, a 401(k) account.

The bankrupt firm also admitted failing to send $7,336 in union dues to the union in a timely manner.

The embezzled money has all been returned, said Raymond Fink, the company's bankruptcy lawyer. He said the company's plan for resolving its financial problems was submitted to the court earlier this month and it called for the plant's liquidation. The company's niche business was in printing annual reports and other color brochures.

He said the company's failure to remit the deducted money within the lawful time limits was simply an act of a financially distressed company.

The money was long ago restored to the funds, Fink said. But the company, formerly run by Melvin Alexander, pleaded guilty to embezzlement in U.S. District Court last Friday as the case against it finally was resolved.

The company's failure stemmed from the heavy competition in the printing industry and high overhead, Fink said.

The company faces a maximum fine of $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 5.

Its retirement plans cover 79 people and include more than $2.2 million in assets.

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