ST. PAUL, Minn. - While few details have been released regarding an investigation into a number of Starkey Hearing Technologies executives who were recently fired, the FBI executed a search warrant Wednesday at the home the company's former president.
On Wednesday, FBI officials pulled computers and other items from the home of recently fired Starkey President Jerry Ruzicka.
A vehicle was also taken as part of the search.
At least six people, including four top executives, were fired as part of an ongoing investigation at Starkey in September. Ruzicka was one of them.
At that time, Starkey CEO Bill Austin released a statement that said, "There are no issues that affect our company and it's business as usual."
Austin did not provide further comment about the situation.
An internal email from Starkey that was sent to the company's employees was obtained by Minnesota Public Radio News. It stated the others that were terminated included Chief Financial Officer Scott Nelson, Senior Vice President of Operations Keith Guggenberger and Senior Vice President of Human Resources Larry Miller.
Austin is widely known for creating the Starkey Foundation, providing 175,000 hearing aids in 40 different countries every year. The foundation hosts star-studded galas with headlining guests like former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Starkey Hearing Technologies released this statement Wednesday evening:
"Federal law enforcement authorities are currently conducting an investigation to determine whether Starkey Hearing Technologies has been the victim of criminal activity. As the alleged victim, Starkey recognizes and will do whatever it takes to fulfill its civic and moral duty to cooperate with law enforcement. Because the company cannot comment further at this time without potentially interfering with the ongoing federal criminal investigation, all questions should be referred to the government's spokesperson.
Starkey was started in the basement of founder Bill Austin's home in 1967, and has grown to employ approximately 1,600 people in Minnesota and 4,800 worldwide. The government's investigation has no impact on the company's ongoing business. As a world leader in delivering advanced hearing solutions, Starkey remains committed to its employees, its customers and to global hearing health and innovation. Starkey has long been guided by the motto, "Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today." This motto has never been more true. Starkey's future is bright.
Additionally, we want to be clear that Starkey Hearing Foundation, the separate non-profit charitable organization, is not alleged to have been victimized, has not been asked to assist with any investigation and its mission has not in any way been compromised. Starkey Hearing Foundation travels the globe on mission trips to give the priceless gift of hearing to those less fortunate. The Starkey Hearing Foundation has provided and fitted free hearing aids for millions of people."
Attorney Scott Neilson, Henson & Efron