MOUNT GILEAD, OHIO — Former HPM owner Christopher Filos pleaded guilty to the company's failure to pay taxes on Aug. 21, just days before his trial was scheduled to begin in Morrow County Common Pleas Court.
Filos, 47, signed off on the arrangement before Judge Howard Hall, and agreed to pay at least $261,500 worth of unpaid state and local taxes. That total includes $44,687 to the village of Mount Gilead, and at least $216,811 in state taxes.
Morrow County Prosecutor Charles Howland said the state tax bill is likely to be higher, after adding in penalties for nonpayment. Filos has 24 months to pay the state of Ohio, according to the agreement.
All the taxes were withheld from HPM workers' paychecks.
In court, Filos agreed to pay.
“I am paying for the village now,” he told the judge. Those local taxes are due Sept. 13. Filos also said he will pay the state taxes, once that amount is finalized.
Filos' trial was scheduled to begin on Aug. 24. That trial has been canceled since he pleaded guilty — but the judge said he would hold a hearing Sept. 29, and that Filos faces jail time and fines if the taxes are not being paid.
Filos is president of Taylor's Industrial Services LLC of New Jersey, which bought the assets of HPM in 2001. The aging factory, which made injection molding machines, extruders and die casting equipment, closed in December 2009, sat unused, and then the contents were auctioned in early 2011.
At the Aug. 21 court hearing, Filos pleaded guilty to three counts under what is known as a bill of information. He waived his right to a jury trial. He entered guilty pleas on behalf of Taylor's Industrial Services for failing to pay the state and local taxes. Filos pleaded guilty as an individual for a charge of failure to pay taxes withheld.
Prosecutor Howland and Tom Elkin, Morrow County assistant prosecutor, said the agreement means Filos will pay the state and local taxes owed.
For Mount Gilead officials, the tax payment agreement signals that the HPM saga is winding down. The firm was founded in 1877 to make apple presses. HPM became a pioneering U.S. manufacturer of injection molding machines — at one time employing hundreds of people in the small town.
The HPM name lives on in nearby Marion, Ohio, at HPM North America Corp., which sells injection presses and die-casting machinery made in China by its owner, Guangdong Yizumi Precision Machinery Co. Ltd. Several former HPM employees work at HPM North America. Yizumi bought the intellectual property of HPM at the auction in Mount Gilead.
Filos and Taylor's face a separate case in Morrow County Common Please Court for allegedly illegal storage of hazardous waste at the plant. The Environmental Protection Agency cleaned up the HPM property. In December, Judge Hall approved the sale of the building to a company that is redeveloping it.