We've Got Hollywood Covered

Embattled Bruce Dow Extends Leave from SAG Pension & Health Plans

Supporters on board want CEO Dow to return for six weeks, then retire to become a consultant

Bruce Dow, embattled CEO of the Screen Actors Guild — Producers Pension & Health Plans has extended his leave of absence, TheWrap has learned.  

Dow was to have returned last Monday but now is tentatively scheduled to be back at his roughly $400,000-a-year position on March 21, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. 

Reached by TheWrap this week, Dow (left) would only say that he was on disability leave and could not comment on his return to work. A spokeswoman for the plans said she could not comment on personnel matters. 

Also read: CEO of SAG Pension Plan Accused of Embezzlement Cover-Up (Exclusive)

Dow has been dogged by allegations from an ousted employee, Craig Simmons, that he covered up an embezzlement scheme with losses numbering between $5 million to $10 million at the plans. He is also accused by Simmons of using the funds for personal expenses.

Complicating matters are reports that federal authorities are investigating Simmons’ allegations. However, a spokeswoman for the plans emphatically denied reports that their offices had been raided by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents this week.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau said she could not confirm that an investigation was taking place or that a raid had occurred. 

After allegations against Dow surfaced, the board of trustees for SAG-PPHP released a statement to members announcing that a review of the charges by an outside counsel found that the bulk of the accusations were false. 

However, the investigation did uncover that a former employee misappropriated some $2 million of funds.

What has spared Dow from being terminated, the individual told TheWrap, is the backing of the majority of the plans’ trustees. That support appears to be softening, though many trustees still endorse a scenario that would see Dow return to work for roughly six weeks to “button things up,” the individual told TheWrap. 

Dow would then retire and become a consultant for the plans for roughly a year and a half. 

Also read: CEO of SAG Pension Plan Accused of Embezzlement Cover-Up (Exclusive)

Although the reported raid has been called into question, Simmons was interviewed by three FBI agents in December 2011, according to a different individual with knowledge of the situation. 

During questioning at the federal building in Westwood, he was asked to identify several canceled checks from former chief information officer Nader Karimi to various information and technology vendors that appeared to be part of an alleged kick-back scheme, the individual said.

Simmons was also questioned about Dow’s payments to friends and family members, the individual added. 

An attorney for Karimi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Simmons’ allegations first emerged after he filed a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Labor seeking  a civil and criminal investigation into his charges of fraud and theft by his former employers.

In the documents, Simmons says that he was told by Dow not to discuss an alleged embezzlement scheme by Karimi and to lie to authorities about other questionable financial activity. He further alleged that Dow improperly contracted his wife and brother-in-law to work for the plans. 

When he would not mislead government agencies, Simmons claims he was fired. 

The plans control roughly $2.5 billion in assets for SAG members, but are administered independently of the union. The guild has approximately 90,000 members, many of whom rely on the fund for their health and pension benefits.