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Couple pleads guilty to embezzlement

IRS says couple failed to pay taxes and also took money from workers' pension fund.

November 12, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

A couple who owned three Glendale-based post-production film companies pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling more than a $1 million — a portion of it from their employees’ retirement fund, but the lion’s share for not paying their income taxes.

Ronald Burdett, 75, and Karen Burdett, 70, each pleaded guilty to embezzling $102,327 from their employees’ retirement plan and for failing to pay about $971,896 in income taxes withheld from their employees’ paychecks to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Shadow Hills couple owned the shuttered companies Sunset Post, Inc., Sunset Digital Studios, Inc. and Sunset Teleproduction Center, all located in the 1800 block of Victory Boulevard.

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In 2006 and 2007, the couple reportedly were late in paying money that was withheld from their employees’ pay for their retirement fund, according to an IRS statement.

They later stopped contributing withheld funds into the employees’ pension plan.

Instead, the Burdetts kept the money, according to the IRS.

They also reportedly failed to pay their employees’ federal insurance contribution, for which they were responsible.

According to the IRS, the couple withdrew $585,500 from their companies’ primary bank account to reportedly pay for bills, home improvement projects and make retail purchases, supporting their lifestyle instead of paying overdue taxes or funding the employee retirement plan.

They also sold their home in Glendale for $696,958 in 2005 and put the proceeds in an account established in their daughter’s name, according to their plea agreement filed with the U.S. District Court.

They face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and must pay a fine of at least $500,000. They must also reportedly pay $971,896 to the IRS and at least $102,327 to their employees’ pension plan.

The Burdetts are expected to appear March 17 in U.S. District Court to be sentenced.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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