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Aerovanti CEO faces $30M federal judgment for health care businesses


Patrick Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021.
Patrick Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021.
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Prosecutors in Maryland have asked a federal judge to approve a $30 million default judgment against Patrick Britton-Harr, the on-and-off and, as of Oct. 31, back on again CEO of troubled Sarasota-based private air service firm Aerovanti.

The federal prosecutors filed a motion last week asking U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander to order Britton-Harr and multiple health care-related entities he founded and/or controls to be punished after repeatedly ignoring the case and failing to comply with court orders.

Those entities include Provista Health LLC, AMS Onsite Inc., Britton-Harr Enterprises and Coastal Laboratories, court records show.

This all stems from a federal False Claims Act case brought against Britton-Harr and the companies charging they repeatedly — and maliciously — overcharged Medicare for unnecessary tests and for “taking advantage of nursing homes that were desperate to obtain COVID-19 tests for their patients.”

Prosecutors want the court to issue the judgement after Britton-Harr and the associated companies “failed to appear, plead, or otherwise defend” themselves in a case accusing them of committing Medicare fraud. “By their defaults, defaulting defendants are deemed to have admitted the factual allegations,” prosecutors write in the motion.

A default order was issued Sept. 25.

The motion for the judgement was filed Thursday, Nov. 30. As of Monday evening, court records had not been updated to show if the judge had granted the motion or set a hearing date.

Prosecutors are asking for $21,488,743 in “treble” damages, which, under the False Claims Act, allows the U.S. government to collect up to three times actual or compensatory damages. They are asking for an additional $9,402,464 in penalties, according to the document.

The 58-page False Claims Act case filed in July against Britton-Harr and his connected businesses by the FBI’s Baltimore field office alleges he sought “to capitalize on the nation’s health crisis during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Authorities contended Britton-Harr and the companies “caused the presentment of more than 24,000 false claims to Medicare for over 300,000 respiratory pathogen panel tests that were unreasonable and medically unnecessary, performed without a valid physician order, or not performed at all.”

The Justice Department and FBI in the complaint also say Britton-Harr moved the proceeds from the alleged fraud to other companies he owned after leaving the medical field. Officials allege “Britton-Harr then used some of the proceeds of this fraudulent scheme to lease or purchase various aircrafts, and he then founded a new company called AeroVanti that provides private charter airplane service.”

Britton-Harr didn’t respond to a voicemail or text sent to his cellphone Monday afternoon.

According to the motion for the default judgement, his current addresses are in Tampa and Annapolis, Maryland.

The Tampa house is located on Davis Island near the city’s downtown. County records show the waterfront home is assessed at $924,710. But it is not clear if Britton-Harr is currently living in it. According to Zillow, the three-bedroom, two-bath home is on the market for rent with an asking price of $8,500 per month.

As for the address in Maryland, Anne Arundel County records show the home was sold in September, four days after the default, for $575,000 to a Virginia LLC belonging to a company named Express Homebuyers. Express, based just outside of Washington D.C., works with homeowners “to eliminate the uncertainty of their financial situation and sell their home fast.”

The previous owner was named Tombstone Holdings LLC, a Delaware company which, according to Maryland and Delaware records, is run by Britton-Harr.

While a $30 million judgement is significant, it is just one of Britton-Harr’s many legal complications, mostly stemming from his role in AreoVanti.

There are at least a half-dozen state and federal lawsuits that have been filed against the company nationwide. Several of these lawsuits claim AeroVanti sold $150,000 memberships for planes that had been repossessed and that it sold memberships knowing planes weren’t available. One of the plaintiff’s attorneys went so far as to say the company’s membership plan “has all the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme.

AeroVanti has also faced allegations its fleet had been grounded while it poured money into pro sports and other sponsorships. And there have been questions about the veracity of claims it raised $100 million from investors.

Britton-Harr publicly reemerged as the head of the company in late October after stepping down in July in the face of the legal whirlwind. He was replaced by former Manatee County Administrator and school board member Scott Hopes. Hopes was fired Oct. 14 and replaced by the founder’s brother, Todd Britton-Hart.

Todd Britton-Harr lasted three days before resigning.

 

author

Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

author

Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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