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AeroVanti founder's lawyer walks away from $30M contempt case

A federal judge has granted permission for Patrick Britton-Harr's attorney to withdraw from the case.


  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 2:00 p.m. June 2, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Patrick Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021.
Patrick Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021.
File photo
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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An attorney in a $30 million Medicare fraud case in Maryland against Patrick Britton-Harr, the founder and CEO of troubled Sarasota air service company AeroVanti, has quit. 

According to court filings, attorney David Barger was granted permission to step away from the case late Friday by U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander.

In a letter sent to Britton-Harr that same day, a deputy clerk writes that “You are hereby notified that this case will proceed with you acting as your own attorney (pro se), unless and until new counsel enters an appearance on your behalf.”

Britton-Harr was found in contempt of court in March in a case where he and several health care companies he operates were accused of committing Medicare fraud.

In his motion to withdraw as Britton-Harr’s attorney, Barger writes that his firm, Greenberg Traurig, was hired Feb. 11 “for the sole purpose of entering a limited appearance” to represent Britton-Harr at the contempt hearing.

Britton-Harr did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Prosecutors have said Britton-Harr used proceeds from the alleged $30 million fraud to start AeroVanti.

The company is now mired in a number of lawsuits charging bills, employees and clients have not been paid and that money meant for planes that were inoperable or had been repossessed was diverted for other uses.

As part of the contempt finding in the Maryland fraud case, Britton-Harr was ordered to pay $575,000 by April 30 or explain why he could not come up with the money. That deadline was extended by two days.

On May 2, Britton-Harr filed a status report saying he was unable to pay the money because, in part, he was living off money borrowed from friends and family.

At a status conference May 6 to discuss the report that was filed and other matters, Barger writes he notified the court, prosecutors and clients that he would be filing a motion to withdraw.

Britton-Harr, he writes, was notified May 7 “that he would either need to hire new counsel or advise the court that he will be proceeding without counsel.”

“The status of ‘the contempt issue’ remains the same regardless of whether Mr. Britton-Harr has counsel,” Barger writes in his motion.

“The undersigned is not suggesting Mr. Britton-Harr has remedied the situation — he has not. But one thing has nothing to do with the other.”

 

author

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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