FBI Raids Sommet Group In Cool Springs - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

FBI Raids Sommet Group In Cool Springs

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by Nicole Ferguson & Eric White

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - The FBI along with the IRS criminal investigation's division and the Department of Labor have all gone into the Sommet Group headquarters in Franklin with a search warrant.

The Sommet Group is located on Cool Springs Boulevard. They provide retirement and heath insurance plans, payroll, and several other HR-related services to roughly 100 companies across the country.

According to an affidavit in support of the search warrant, Sommet's managing partner, Brian Whitfield, mismanaged client money. Instead of going toward taxes, payroll checks, health insurance, retirement plans and other services, Whitfield allegedly re-routed much of that money into a general account. It's unknown what exactly he used the money for, but the affidavit claims Whitfield routinely engaged in financial transactions with that client money. Sometimes those transactions exceeded $10,000 at a time.
 Photos: FBI, IRS Agents Raid Sommet Group Headquarters

Dr. Jay Chapman is an optometrist and owner of Dr. Jay Chapman Vision Center in Lawrenceburg. Chapman's business has contracted its payroll, health insurance, and Christmas Club savings fund with Sommet for two years. 
 
"I don't know where they got off track on this deal. You think the Sommet Group and the Sommet Center you think that would be a viable company. You wouldn't have to worry about anything as far as that goes," said Chapman. "Something has gone awry. And we don't really know what it is. We're just kind of sitting around with everybody else kind of seeing what's going on."
 
Chapman said the employees were most concerned with getting their Christmas Club money back. 
 
"You wouldn't think that would be their overriding concern, but I think it is. That they're not going to have enough money to take care of the kids at Christmas," Chapman told NewsChannel 5.

This all comes on the heels of a tax lien issued against the Sommet Group by the state Department of Labor just last week. The lien was issued for $17,622 in unpaid employment insurance taxes.

In November of 2009, the Nashville Predators ended their naming rights deal with the Sommet Group of Tennessee for the team's arena, and they sued the company for failing to pay. 
Predators Sue Company, End Naming Deal For Arena

The Nashville Hockey Club Limited Partnership filed the lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court accusing the Sommet Group of Tennessee breach of contract under the three-year naming rights agreement reached in 2007. 

Ed Lang, president of the team's business operations, said the Sommet Group had not made payments for months and had not given the Predators any indication the company would catch up. 

Under the deal, the arena had been called the Sommet Center since 2007. The building in Nashville's downtown tourism district has been the Predators' home since 1998. Before it was the Sommet Center, it was the Gaylord Entertainment Center. 

The team announced in February that the current Sommet Center would become Bridgestone Arena.

Email: nferguson@newschannel5.com & ewhite@newschannel5.com

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Story)

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