Attorneys

Alex M. Brucker

Alex M. Brucker is a nationally recognized employee benefits/ERISA lawyer, speaker and author. His knowledge of the intricacies of the regulations and policies of the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor, results in exceptional insight, experience, credibility, authority—and creative solutions—for his clients.

Alex began his career in benefits law in 1974, the year the ERISA law was enacted. His legal career grew with the law — a claim few attorneys in his field can make. He has since grown to be a tireless advocate for tax equity, particularly for privately owned businesses and business owners, and has worked with Congress on pension and tax legislation.

He has appeared before the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, the National Institute of Pension Administrators, the California CPA Foundation for Education Conferences, the Annual Enrolled Actuaries Conference, the Western Pension and Benefits Conference, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, and the University of Southern California Federal Tax Institute speaking on such issues as ERISA fiduciary obligations, investing and liabilities, 401(k), pension, and profit sharing plans, and IRS and Department of Labor controversy and compliance initiatives. Alex leads continuing education pension and employee benefits workshops for attorneys, plan administrators, trustees, accountants, and insurance and financial professionals.

Alex is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel and a director of the Small Business Council of America, Washington, D.C. (SBCA), a National nonprofit organization representing the interests of privately held businesses. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, and a current member of the Motion Picture and Television Tax Institute.

In 2009, and again in 2010, Alex was honored by the SBCA for his outstanding leadership, dedication and achievement on behalf of America’s small businesses. Alex legislated to obtain needed relief from disproportionate IRS penalties; the results of his efforts were enacted into the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010.

Alex acts as associated counsel in employee benefits (ERISA) litigation and is often engaged as an expert witness on pension and employee benefits (ERISA) issues.

Alex’s goal is to find a solution to his client’s problem. He is well known for never taking “no” for an answer, and is notorious for inspiring dread among Internal Revenue Service auditors when CPAs and plan administrators declare, “If you don’t settle reasonably, we’ll call in Brucker!”

PRACTICE AREAS

  • IRS or DOL Examinations and/or Investigations
  • Expert Witness or Co-Counsel in Pension and/or Employee Benefits (ERISA) and Professional Liability Litigation
  • Due Diligence Plan Reviews
  • Business Transactions, including Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales and Divisions
  • Plan Start-Ups or Plan Terminations
  • Plan Administration Issues or Problems
  • Assistance with Increased Business-Owner Liability

CLIENTS

  • For-Profit and Non-Profit Companies, Business Owners and Executives
  • CPAs
  • Plan Administrators

Linda Russano Morra

Linda’s entire 38 year career has been spent in the employee benefits field. With such a focused law practice, Linda is able to bring tremendous value to family lawyers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, service providers and individuals. Whether offering creative solutions for pension problems in a divorce case, consulting with a start-up on how best to compensate executives, or advising surviving spouses and beneficiaries about death benefit issues, Linda brings her expertise and experience to the table and solves problems with practicality.

Linda gives presentations to national, state and local groups such as the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, the State Bar of California, local chapters of the National Institute of Pension Administrators, and family law and estate planning groups all over Southern California. She contributes a chapter on QDROs for Aspen Publisher’s 457 Answer Book and writes timely articles on recent benefits cases for her firm’s newsletter, On Benefits

Linda earned a B.A. in Anthropology cum laude from Hunter College and a J.D. cum laude from Southwestern University School of Law, where she was an Editor of the Law Review.

PRACTICE AREAS

  • Division of Pensions and Other Benefits in Family Law – Counsel or Expert Witness
  • Nonqualified Deferred Compensation for Executives – For Profit and Nonprofit Organizations
  • Surviving Spouse and Beneficiary Death Benefits
  • Lifetime and Death Distribution Planning and Minimum Required Distributions

CLIENTS

  • Family Law Attorneys
  • Employers/Executives of For Profit and Nonprofit Organizations
  • Fiduciaries and Pension Industry Professionals
  • Pension and Benefit Plans
  • Individuals with Death Benefit Issues

 

Meredith J. Sesser

Meredith J. Sesser’s expertise is drafting documents for 401(k), 403(b) (retirement plans for public education organizations and non-profits), pension, and profit-sharing plans. Additionally, she analyzes businesses and human resources outsourcing companies to advise on benefit programs and ascertain requirements for owners, employees, and contractors.

Meredith handles DOL and IRS controversies, including investigations, audits and voluntary compliance to prevent plan disqualification. She works vigorously to abate IRS fees charged to employers with late or negligent filings of Form 5500 (Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan), counsels clients on inadvertent filing errors, and resolves inaccuracies.

Meredith is a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA), and a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA).

Prior to joining Brucker & Morra, Meredith was an associate at a Los Angeles-area law firm where she mastered the intricacies of ERISA, defined contribution and defined benefit plans, employee benefits, and estate planning.

PRACTICE AREAS

  • Assistance with IRS and DOL Plan Audits and Investigations
  • IRS and DOL Correction Programs (EPCRS, VCP, DFVC and VFCP)
  • Form 5500 Delinquencies
  • Third-Party Administrator and Service Provider Representation
  • Retirement Plan Preparation, Implementation, Operation and Termination
  • Controlled Group and Affiliated Service Group Analysis
  • Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Representation

CLIENTS

  • Physician Owners of Surgery Centers
  • Sole Practitioners
  • Businesses
  • Churches and other Non-Profits

 

Cathryn B. Sportsman

Cathryn B. Sportsman has been practicing employee benefits law for over twenty years. She gained expertise and developed her unique perspective on the relationship between employee benefits issues and the employer’s business picture while working at a major international human resources consulting firm.

At Brucker & Morra, Cathy handles tax and compliance issues related to qualified retirement plans, and Internal Revenue Code Section 409A document and compliance issues for non-qualified deferred compensation plans. In addition, Cathy manages the firm’s master volume submitter documents, which are used by third-party administration firms and law firms for their cash balance, pension, profit sharing, and 401(k) plans.

Cathy’s expertise on ERISA-prohibited transaction issues, ability to navigate through the pitfalls of the Department of Labor’s prohibited transaction exemption process, and outstanding track record of success in obtaining exemptions has been invaluable to her clients.

PRACTICE AREAS

  • Retirement Plans
    • Nonqualified deferred compensation plans/ Internal Revenue Code Section 409A
    • Qualified Pension and Profit Sharing Plans
      • Volume and prototype plan documents
      • Individually designed plan documents
      • ERISA
        • Prohibited transaction analysis and exemption applications
        • General fiduciary compliance issues
        • Creditor Protection/ bankruptcy issues
      • Employee Benefits Taxation
        • Listed Transactions
        • Unrelated business income taxation
        • Taxation of employee benefit distributions
        • Roth/traditional IRAs

Sheryl Alzona

Sheryl Alzona has been with Brucker & Morra since 2008, focusing her practice on ESOPs, creditor protection and SIMPLE IRA plans. She applies her 11 years of experience as a consultant and administrator of retirement plans in designing and drafting individually designed plans with a special focus on ESOPs. She performs due diligence reviews of corporate documents, government forms and financial data prior to the closing of ESOP transactions.

Sheryl also works with bankruptcy attorneys, providing advice on a client’s legal protection under ERISA and California law. She reviews debtor retirement plans to assure that they would pass muster in the bankruptcy court, and strategizes with bankruptcy attorneys to determine which exemptions to utilize to get the best protection for the client.

Sheryl represents clients in IRS audits and DOL investigations. She coordinates with third-party administrators, CPAs and other attorneys to ensure the efficiency and accuracy of responses to the IRS and/or DOL requests and requirements.

Sheryl graduated from the University of West Los Angeles, School of Law and received the Witkin Award for Academic Excellence in Community Property.

PRACTICE AREAS

CLIENTS