The Internal Revenue Service and the FBI searched the home and business of East Washington businessman George Retos Wednesday, but did not disclose the nature of their investigation.
David J. Hickton, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, confirmed the investigation Wednesday afternoon.
Hickton said special agents from the FBI and the IRS criminal investigation unit executed search warrants at Retos’ business, Prime Plastics, at 100 Detroit Ave., Washington, and his residence at 103 LeMoyne Ave., East Washington, “as part of an ongoing federal investigation.”
A neighbor on LeMoyne Avenue who did not want to be identified said officers from the East Washington Police Department, as well as agents from the FBI and IRS, arrived on Retos’ property about 9:30 a.m. Agents were seen loading duffel bags into a number of unmarked sport utility vehicles that were parked on and near the property Wednesday afternoon. Agents on the scene said they were not authorized to speak to the press.
An FBI agent on the site of Prime Plastics said Wednesday afternoon that a search warrant was being served, and that daylight shift workers were sent home.
Retos has a past history of income tax problems.
In August 2010, he entered into a civil agreement in U.S. District Court to repay more than $1 million plus penalties and statutory interest for taxes he failed to pay in 1987, 1993, 1995 through 2001 and 2003 through 2006.
In 1992, while serving as legal counsel for the Washington County Authority and Washington County Industrial Development Authority, Retos was indicted by a federal grand jury on criminal charges. Later that year, a federal jury convicted him of evading $95,000 in taxes for 1986 and 1987 and stealing investments entrusted to him by a client by transferring the investment to his name.
Soon afterward, Retos resigned his solicitorships and relinquished his license to practice law.
In 1995, after failing to have his conviction overturned by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Retos was sentenced to serve 27 months in a minimum security prison in Morgantown, W.Va. He also was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and restitution of $42,886 to former clients.
Retos did not return a call seeking a comment on Wednesday’s searches.
Staff writers Rick Shrum and Aaron Kendeall contributed to this report.