A federal bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of the financially troubled Getchell Agency Inc. to Sweetser, a Saco-based company that provides services to people with physical and mental disabilities, for $2.7 million.
The closing is expected to take place next month, according to bankruptcy trustee Nathaniel Hull of Portland.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter Cary approved the sale Tuesday, according to documents filed in Bangor.
Sweetser is not taking on Getchell’s debts, but will retain current employees, the purchase and sale agreement said.
Last month, stalking horse bidder Emile Clavet of Auburn, who owns Health Affiliates Maine, offered $3.4 million for the agency. That bid was $1 million in cash at the closing with the rest of the purchase price to be paid out over three years.
Sweetser, which has been operating the agency since mid-December, agreed to pay $2.7 million in cash at the closing, Hull said Thursday.
Deb Taylor, Sweetser president and CEO, said the company was pleased to acquire the Getchell Agency and to continue providing care and services to its former clients.
“During the past few months, we have come to know the staff and the clients,” Taylor said Thursday in a statement about the purchase. “The staff are dedicated and the clients deserving of a well-run agency to support them in their living arrangements. Sweetser is committed to providing the structure and support necessary to return this program to being a reliable provider of essential care.”
In March 2016, the Getchell Agency filed for bankruptcy, about three years after former employees filed a class-action lawsuit over unpaid hours for employees who slept on site during overnight shifts. That case was settled through the bankruptcy process.
The bankruptcy judge removed the agency’s owner Rena J. Getchell from the day-to-day operation of the business and appointed Portland-based bankruptcy attorney Hull as trustee. He hired Sweetser to run the Getchell agency.
“Sweetser has longtime experience providing high quality health care including residential services, with a statewide network of professionals who deliver mental health, recovery and education services to approximately 20,000 Maine adults and family members each year,” Taylor said.
Once the sale is finalized, legal problems for Getchell and its owner, who has filed for personal bankruptcy, won’t be over, Hull said. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services in court documents has alleged fraud allegations against Getchell, which the agency has denied.
Last year, Cary appointed a special examiner to investigate those allegations. The examiner’s report had not yet been filed in bankruptcy court.
The Getchell Agency has not been charged with any crimes involving how the business was run.
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