Prime Plastics retains firm in hopes of rescue

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More than six months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Prime Plastics of Washington has retained a Maryland firm to seek a savior.


“We’re trying to find someone to keep the business operating and keep everyone working. They’re in obvious distress because they filed for Chapter 11,” Hank Waida, a managing director at Equity Partners CRB LLC, headquartered in Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, said in a telephone interview Thursday.


Prime Plastics, in the Detroit Avenue business park, filed for Chapter 11 on Feb. 20. Equity Partners will seek an investor or a joint partner, a source of refinancing or a buyer for the company, which produces a variety of consumer plastic goods. Prime Plastics’ customers include Little Tikes, Dollar General and Grand Venture.


The company has about 30 employees working one shift during the summer, a smaller number than the rest of the year, according to a person on the grounds who declined to give his name. He said there are 50-plus employees working three shifts at other times.


In a news release issued Thursday, Waida extolled some of Prime Plastics’ virtues, including its 70,000-square-foot facility, its promimity to Route 40 (East Maiden Street) and Interstates 70 and 79, and its seven extrusion blow-molding machines.


Waida said in the release: “This is an excellent opportunity to invest in or own a plastics molding manufacturer with an established customer base, a highly trained and experienced workforce, located four to five hours from 60 percent of the American population,”


According to paperwork filed during the Chapter 11 proceeding in Fabruary, Jacqueline A. Meyers is the chairwoman of Prime Plastics. The source at Prime Plastics on Thursday described himself as a friend of Meyers and said she is a doctor based in Pittsburgh.


An Internet search found a psychologist named Jacqueline A. Meyers with offices on Noblestown Road in the Crafton area.


A Business Entity Filing History, kept by the Pennsylvania Department of State, lists George Retos as president and treasurer of Prime Plastics. The Internal Revenue Service and FBI searched his East Washington home and Prime Plastics on June 26 but would not disclose the nature of their investigation. Nothing has come of that to this point.


Retos has a 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 investments 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.


The Observer-Reporter made a phone call Thursday to his residence but got a recorded message saying that his mailbox was full.


Prime Plastics began operations at the Detroit Avenue site in 2007. Multi-Chem, the only other business there, opened shop in early 2010. Multi-Chem is an oil and gas support firm that supplies chemicals to companies working in Marcellus Shale.


The site was transformed into a toxic brownfield by a seemingly inextinguishable fire more than a decade earlier. A Washington teenager set the blaze Feb. 27, 1997, in a building that had been used by Natural Granulating, which recycled tires. That company had closed a year earlier, but a large volume of tires was still inside.


It took 10 days for firefighters, working virtually around the clock, to put out the blaze.


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