Today Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar wrote about the decision by Morrow County, Ohio, Prosecutor Charles Howland not to file charges against Christopher Filos, the former owner of the now-shuttered HPM machinery company. Because so many readers are interested, I'll also share some additional detail -- this copy of a Jan. 24 letter from Howland to Randa Wagner, editor of the Morrow County Sentinel, explaining the decision. The letter starts below, after these links to the Plastics News story, "No charges against HPM's Filos," and the Sentinel's version, "Hopes for felony charges against former HPM owner fade for county prosecutor." Re: Theft of Employee Benefits at HPM Dear Ms. Wagner: Beginning in January of 2010 the Morrow County Prosecutor's Office has been investigating the theft of employee benefits at HPM. In January of that year, the Mount Gilead Police Department executed a search warrant for employee records held at HPM. The result of this search produced thousands of documents. With limited funding we were not able to hire an accountant to sift through these records. A local accountant was of great help to us in reviewing the financial records. In addition to the local accountant, we were able to enlist the aid of the United States Department of Labor. This federal agency was kind enough to send us a Senior Investigator, Ms. Theresa Schlecht. Early last fall, Investigator Schlecht sent us a three page memorandum concerning the theft of employee benefits. The investigator compiled the records she analyzed consisting of over 100 pages of records and presented those records to the Prosecutor's Office. In a nut shell what happened at HPM is as follows: 1. On May 1, 2009, Chris Filos entered into contract with Anthem to provide health insurance for thirty-six employees and eight former employees. Mr. Filos paid Anthem $30,000 for the first month's premium. Mr. Filos did not make any payments to Anthem for the months of June and July 2009. Anthem then canceled the health insurance effective May 31, 2009. 2. During the months of June and July 2009, HPM employees and eight former employees paid a total of $22,123.56 for health insurance. For the current employees these funds were paid out of their paychecks. The former employees were sending in payments for Cobra coverage. 3. The funds paid by the employees and former employees were not returned to them or used for health insurance purposes. Instead, the funds were used to pay for other expenses of the business. The Morrow County Prosecutor's Office sent out letters to thirty-six employees and the eight former employees, who were the alleged victims in the matter. The purpose of the letter was to set up a meeting for January 18, 2012 to determine whether the victims wished to pursue charges. Out of the forty-four letters, we received six responses. Three alleged victims appeared for the meeting and two out of the three alleged victims lived outside of Morrow County. I had hoped that at least fifteen or twenty would show up so that the case would continue to be in the felony range. Of that group we were hoping that they would elect four or five individuals to speak on the group's behalf at the grand jury. Without the participation of the victims, we cannot go forward. Individually, the amounts taken were small. The events had occurred three years ago, and the victims have moved on with their lives. Unfortunately, the State of Ohio will be unable to go forward prosecuting the alleged theft of $22,000 from 44 victims. The Morrow County Prosecutor commends the efforts of all those people and agencies that participated in the investigation of this matter. The investigation of HPM involved the efforts of the Mt. Gilead Police Department, a local accountant and the United States Labor Department. It was a very good effort by our local police department and a local professional working with a federal agency to complete a difficult investigation concerning an allegation of financial misconduct. The Morrow County Prosecutor's Office thanks all of those agencies and people involved in the investigation. Sincerely, Charles S. Howland Morrow County Prosecutor
Prosecutor explains HPM decision
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