Business

Lenexa firm suspends operations, seeks funds

Lenexa's Icop Digital, a company headed by former Kansas Lt. Gov. Dave Owen, has suspended operations while it seeks investment, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

Owen, contacted briefly at company headquarters, declined to comment.

In its SEC filing, Icop said that "we do not have adequate cash to meet our Dec. 31, 2010, payroll." A photo on the company's website shows a staff of about 40 people.

"We must lay off our entire staff," the company said in the SEC filing.

The filing said Icop's executives and key employees will continue to work without pay while the company searches for investment "or until we determine that such financing is not available."

Company officials can't be confident that Icop will find that money, and the loss of employees and sales could doom the business, it acknowledged in the SEC filing.

Icop, launched in 2002, specialized in digital surveillance equipment to law enforcement domestically and overseas. But in its SEC statement, Icop said that "we have a history of negative cash flow and losses from operations" that forced it to rely on investors and debt financing to make ends meet.

"However, we do not project that we can operate at a break-even level without a substantial increase in sales revenues."

In November, the company said it had retained Merriman Capital to help raise money and explore other business opportunities.

The 72-year-old Owen, lieutenant governor from 1973 to 1975, has run the company with its president, Laura Owen. She is the former Laura Nicholl, who was the first woman to serve as the commerce secretary of Kansas.

The two wed shortly before Dave Owen served about six months in federal prison in 1994. He was sentenced to a year and a day for failing to report $100,000 in consulting firm income on a 1986 federal tax return. Even after conviction, he insisted he was innocent. President Clinton pardoned him just before leaving office in early 2001.

Owen was a fundraiser for the 1988 presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Dole but stepped aside amid an investigation of the campaign and the business dealings of Dole's wife, former transportation secretary and later U.S. senator Elizabeth Dole.

During that probe, Owen said the Doles didn't know that a blind trust belonging to Elizabeth Dole planned to sell an Overland Park building to a former Dole aide. But in 1996, Owen recanted, saying Bob Dole was aware of the deal. Dole denied it.

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