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AeroVanti founder misses deadline in $30M Medicare fraud case, may face jail

Patrick Britton-Harr’s attorney has asked a federal judge for a three-day extension to file a status report on why he failed to pay $575,000 to the Maryland court.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 6:45 p.m. April 30, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Patrick Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021.
Patrick Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021.
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Update: U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander granted Patrick Britton-Harr’s request for an extension Tuesday evening in a one-page ruling.

Hollander who signed the proposed order submitted by Britton-Harr’s attorney seeking the extension, added a handwritten note to the last line. She writes that the motion is granted providing prosecutors don’t move by May 2 to “rescind this order as improvidently granted.”

Black’s Law Dictionary defines improvidently granted as: A judgment, decree, rule, Injunction, etc., when given or rendered without adequate consideration by the court, or without proper information as to all the circumstances affecting it, or based upon a mistaken assumption or misleading information or advice, is sometimes said to have been “improvidently” given or issued.

Patrick Britton-Harr, the founder of the troubled Sarasota air service company AeroVanti who was found in contempt of court in March, is asking a federal judge in Maryland for an additional three days to file a status report detailing why he cannot come up with a $575,000 fine or an explanation for why he can’t by a Tuesday deadline.

In court papers filed Tuesday afternoon, Britton-Harr’s attorney, David Barger, asks U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander for an extension to file the report, writing that he is waiting for information to explain why the deadline was missed.

Hollander had ruled March 4 that Britton-Harr was in contempt. The judge gave him until April 30 to either deposit the money with the court or file a report explaining why he could not come up with it and the efforts he made to raise the funds.

Neither prosecutors nor Barger responded to a request for comment or an explanation of what would happen if the order is not granted. It is not immediately clear if Britton-Harr can be jailed for missing the deadline and violating the judge’s order.

(As of 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, neither a ruling from the judge or a response from prosecutors had been posted on the federal court's online system. Check back with the Business Observer throughout the day for updates.)

The contempt finding stems from a case where Britton-Harr and several health care companies he operates were accused of committing Medicare fraud and are facing a $30 million default judgement.

Prosecutors have said he used some of the money to found AeroVanti, the local company facing dozens of state and federal lawsuits alleging it failed to fulfill its promises and that money meant for airplanes and other services never materialized. The list of those suing includes unpaid vendors, unpaid airplane owners, former employees, professional sports teams and customers who paid $150,000 for memberships for planes that had been repossessed.

AeroVanti has headquarters in Maryland and Sarasota.

The default in Maryland and subsequent contempt finding came about after prosecutors alleged Britton-Harr repeatedly ignored the case and failed to comply with court orders.

Just ahead of a scheduled hearing in March, his attorney wrote in court papers that Britton-Harr admitted there was enough evidence to prove he was in contempt. That is when Hollander ordered the money be into the court registry by April 30 or an explanation be provided why he couldn’t come up with it.

There is no timestamp for when the request for the extension was filed, but it is dated April 30 and appeared in the federal court system’s online database just a couple of hours before the end of business Tuesday, the day of the deadline.

In the filing, Barger writes that he is expecting “additional information” from Britton-Harr over the next several days and that the information “would be relevant to the status report that must be filed.” 

“In order to provide the most accurate update, counsel seeks permission from the court to file the update no later than May 3, 2024,” the filing says.

“This brief extension of time is not sought for the purpose of delay, but to provide a more complete status report.”

He also writes that prosecutors oppose the extension.

Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021. According to his filing in the contempt case, he owns “between 49% and just over 50%” of the company and was the CEO until June 2023.

He has declined dozens of requests for comment in the past year. But there are published reports, in the Business Observer and elsewhere, reporting he has been back as CEO since October when his brother, Todd Britton-Harr, stepped away from the position three days after replacing former Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes as CEO. 



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing 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.

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