FBI agents search Lincare locations

Monday, February 28, 2005

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Federal agents searched the offices of a central Florida home oxygen provider in January, just weeks after the company was acquired by Lincare.

The FBI confirmed that agents searched three offices formerly operated by Bane Medical Services, Inc. and Oxygen and Respiratory Therapy, Inc. Agents also searched two additional offices, but FBI spokesperson Sara Oates declined to say who owned them. She also declined to identify the locations of the offices or the nature of the agency’s investigation, saying the search warrants are under court seal.

During the search, the FBI seized documents related to operations prior to Lincare’s acquisition of the company, Lincare stated Feb. 7 in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In its SEC filing, Lincare said:

“We believe that we have recourse against the seller of the businesses for any claims arising out of the government’s investigation. We may institute legal proceedings against the seller seeking (to rescind) the transaction or, in the alternative, damages for any harm suffered by us. We intend to cooperate with the government’s investigation. We can give no assurances as to whether the investigation will have an adverse impact on our operations or whether we will be able to successfully enforce our legal rights against the seller.”

Bane Medical is based in Plant City, Fla., and operates offices in Bradenton, Port Charlotte, Sebring and Sarasota. It was incorporated in November 1998. Its owner, Ben Bane, ran the business until late December, when the company was acquired by Lincare for an undisclosed amount, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Lincare’s recent acquisition of Bane Medical marks the second time Lincare has done business with its founder. In 1995, it acquired Bane Respiratory, a home oxygen provider, from Ben Bane for $15 million, according to industry sources.