Wednesday, April 09, 2014

PT boat project turns into battle: Marina, Liberty Aviation Museum battle over World War II-era attack craft’s ownership, re-tooling


A battle between a local marina and local museum over renovations to a World War II era PT boat has escalated into a lawsuit and a criminal probe.

The fight pits Treasure Cove Marina, which says it is owed more than $100,000, against Liberty Aviation Museum, which says the marina has been submitting fraudulent bills. Sheriff Steve Levorchick confirmed Monday his office is reviewing the allegations concerning billing practices.

Treasure Cove owner Rob Moore declined to comment and referred the Register to his attorney, James Reinheimer of Port Clinton, who didn’t return a phone call.   

Ed Patrick, CEO of Liberty Aviation Museum, contends Treasure Cove submitted obviously false invoices for parts his boat doesn’t use and has refused to submit a monthly statement of account, which Patrick contends is standard for a business carrying out an ongoing project.

Treasure Cove’s parent company, JMR Marine Consulting LLC, filed a lawsuit against Liberty Aviation Museum and PT 728, the torpedo boat, on April 2, alleging JMR is owed $121,823.81 for repairing, maintaining, storing, furnishing and equipping the boat.

The suit asks for the $121,823.81 and for permission to seize the boat. It also seeks an order for the boat to be sold.

The case has been assigned to Common Pleas Judge Bruce Winters and a hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.

Patrick, a retired police officer for the city of Rocky River, said the museum has nothing to hide and phoned the Register to discuss the case. He sent the Register a written summary of some of his complaints against Treasure Cove.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had a problem with anyone,” Patrick said. “We are not behind or delinquent with anyone” He says that Treasure Cove has billed Liberty for parts that clearly belong to civilian boats, including Mercury outboard motor parts, personal watercraft, trailer parts, and gasoline engine parts. “The PT boat has diesel engines,” Patrick wrote in his summary. “None of these items has ever appeared on the job site …” Patrick also contends that Treasure Cove sent documents claiming one employee worked 25.5 hours in one day, and 19.5 hours another day. “Maybe Treasure Cove has a time clock that bends and squeezes time” he said. He said the museum has taken some of its complaints to the sheriff’s office and is alleging fraud.

Levorchick confirmed his office has begun a probe but said it’s in its early stages.

“We do have a detective looking into it” he said. “There’s an audit being performed right now in house at the museum”

The office will likely seek help from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, he said. He said he has no opinion yet on whether fraud occurred.

“This is really early” the sheriff said. “This is something that’s going to be ongoing for a while, I think”

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