A judge told John Burki that their deal was off Thursday during a hearing about fines incurred when his boat became grounded on Gulfport Beach in late June.
Judge Patrick Caddell told Burki during his hearing at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center, “hats off on the deal."
"We had a deal, you and me, your lawyer and these folks. You got a deal; you live up to the deal. That’s an obligation."
John Burki, 66, known as Captain Jay, "Promise" out of Gulfport waters by Aug. 22 in lieu of paying $1,674 in fines for having the grounded boat in the swim area of Gulfport Beach after Tropical Storm Debby. Burki plead guilty to 18 ordinance violations on Aug. 16.
Attorney Caitlin Sirico, representing the City of Gulfport, informed Judge Caddell that Burki did not move his boat as per the court-ordered agreement.
The boat is anchored in the bay just beyond the buoys in Gulfport beach. Five weeks ago, the boat was freed from the sand when a group of about 50 volunteers came out and pushed, pulled and lifted the boat out into the bay. Burki could not be there; he was recovering at Bay Pines VA Hospital
Boat is Sold
Burki told Caddell today that he has since sold the boat to a new owner and said they were unable to move it because of "bad weather."
Burki said it was sold to someone named Mike. He did not provide a last name to the judge during the hearing, but called Mike afterward and provided a last name to Patch. Burki said the new owner, Mike Williams, agreed to pay $2,750 and move the boat last week. Burki informed Williams today that he had to move the boat as soon as possible.
Fines Reinstated, Lien on the Vessel
Attorney Caitlin Sirico asked Burki to bring the boat to the Gulfport Marina and give the city the title. That's when Judge Caddell said that there are other steps that need to be taken first. Caddell immediately reinstated the fines and said he would sign the order for a lien against the boat "as soon as it hits my desk."
City Manager Jim O'Reilly expects the order to be signed this afternoon.
“I believe the court explained to Mr. Burki the issue very well, in the fact, that the city did offer him an opportunity to rectify this situation and he failed to take it,” Jim O’Reilly
If Burki fails to pay the fines, the City of Gulfport can begin the foreclosure process and ask the courts to issue the title to the city.
O'Reilly says Burki still has the opportunity to get his boat back. "Ideally, Mr. Burki would reclaim his vessel and sail it to wherever he wants to go and pay his fines . . . . I have no desire to own that boat," O'Reilly said.
Flagged "At Risk"
The boat has been flagged as "at risk" for becoming a derelict boat, by the Gulfport Police Department. Burki has 90 days from his police-issued notice to bring his boat into compliance with the law.
Patch has attached the letter sent to Burki from police on Aug. 3.