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AeroVanti founder in contempt of court, says he will sell $300K yacht

Legal troubles continue to mount for AeroVanti's founder as a judge gives him 60 days to pay a $575,000 fine.


  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 2:15 p.m. March 5, 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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A federal judge in Maryland has found Patrick Britton-Harr in contempt of court and given him until April 30 to deposit $575,000 with the court.

The contempt finding stems from a case where Britton-Harr, the founder of the troubled Sarasota air service company AeroVanti, and several health care companies he operates, were accused of committing Medicare fraud and are facing a $30 million default judgment.

The judge’s order, issued Monday, cancels a contempt hearing scheduled for March 8.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander was issued after Britton-Harr admitted in a March 1 court filing that he “does not challenge the evidence the government would offer to prove contempt, and concedes that the government can satisfy all the elements necessary to prove civil contempt.”

As part of the admission, Britton-Harr agreed to pay the $575,000 into the court registry but said prosecutors have been told he will need time to come up with the money.

Part of the reason Britton-Harr doesn’t have the funds now, the filing states, is profits from the sale of his home in Annapolis, Maryland, last year went to AeroVanti and he “cannot simply transfer the sales proceeds” to the court.

“However, he has already begun the process of obtaining funds to satisfy any court order on the government’s contempt motion,” the filing says.

“For example, he has listed for sale a yacht worth approximately $300,000 and will attempt to sell other unrestrained assets so he can provide the proceeds to the court’s registry.”

The judge wrote in her order that if Britton-Harr is unable to meet the April 30 deadline, he must file a status report showing what efforts he made to get the money to satisfy the court.

The order does not say what happens if the judge is unsatisfied with his efforts.

Britton-Harr founded AeroVanti in 2021 using, prosecutors allege, money from the Medicare fraud to start the company. 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.

(Britton-Harr has declined dozens of requests for comments in the past year, but there are reports, in the Business Observer and other publications, that he has been back as CEO since October when his brother, Todd Britton-Harr, stepped away from the position just three days after replacing former Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes.)

The company is currently facing more than a dozen state and federal lawsuits claiming it failed to fulfill its promises and that money meant for airplanes and other services never materialized. That list of those suing includes unpaid vendors, unpaid airplane owners and customers who paid $150,000 for memberships for planes that had been repossessed.

Just since January, a group of pilots has filed a class action lawsuit claiming they were not paid; and the Chicago Cubs baseball team filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois, claiming the company violated a promotional agreement and owes the team $3 million.

Questions have also been raised — by those filing lawsuits or who say they were deceived — about the veracity of claims AeroVanti raised $100 million from investors and about what happened to money that did come in.

 

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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