September 18, 2018
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Getchell Agency to remain open as trustee oversees operations

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

A trustee appointed last week to run the financially troubled Getchell Agency in Bangor said he has no intention of liquidating the business, which would force about 70 adults with disabilities to find new homes.

“The goal is to be as invisible as possible to the consumers,” Nathaniel Hull, a Portland attorney, said Monday.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter Cary last week in Portland refused to convert the company’s bankruptcy from Chapter 11, which allows for reorganization, to Chapter 7, which would have dismantled the business.

[Fraud claims spur feds to halt funds to Bangor agency that serves people with disabilities]

The Getchell Agency, the operator of residential homes in Bangor for adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities, did not oppose the appointment of a trustee. It did oppose converting the bankruptcy to Chapter 7 status.

A motion seeking the change in status or the appointment of a trustee was filed last month by the bankruptcy trustee’s office, which is responsible for ensuring creditors are compensated. It was supported by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Getchell filed for bankruptcy in March 2016, three years after former employees filed a class-action lawsuit over unpaid time for employees who slept on site during overnight shifts. That suit was settled through the bankruptcy process.

[Getchell Agency files for bankruptcy, blames state government]

By appointing a trustee, the judge removed owner Rena J. Getchell from day-to-day operations of the business she has owned for 18 years.

Hull said he will hire a manager to oversee the day-to-day operations.

“We will look at bringing someone in who might be interested in acquiring the business,” Hull said.

The agency also faces fraud allegations, which it denies, lodged against it by DHHS. A special examiner appointed by the judge earlier this year to investigate those allegations will continue his work, Cary said last week.

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