Customers Who Lost Tens Of Thousands In Boat Deals Question Why Tampa Bay Company Is Still Open

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Jack Love forked over $25,000 to buy a boat and went through now-defunct Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor. The boat was to be made by Beachcat Boats in Oldsmar.

Five years later, Love still doesn’t have the boat and never got his money back.

“Finally the attorney said, ‘he doesn’t have any money to pay you, but he’ll get you the money someday,’” Love said.

So needless to say, he was pleased to see Better Call Behnken’s report last week that owner John Hartnett was arrested on charges of scheme to defraud and money laundering.

“I was immediately like, ‘it’s about time,’ because a lot of people lost money with him,” Love said.

Love is one of the 56 customers that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says Hartnett defrauded. Hartnett quickly posted his $350,000 bail and is still running Beachcat Boats – the very business investigators claim he used to launder money.

You read that right — investigator Shannon Behnken found Beachcat Boats open. Better Call Behnken went there looking for Harnett, but workers said he wasn’t there and shut the garage door. They did claim they were working on boats.

  • (Better Call Behnken/WFLA photo)
  • (Better Call Behnken/WFLA photo)
  • (Better Call Behnken/WFLA photo)
Shannon Behnken stopped by Beachcat Boats but workers shut the door.

Love said he hopes the criminal charges will be bring restitution for customers who investigator say lost around $800,000.

“I wish the court would make him refund the money to all the people that he took it from,” he said. “I’m sure he’s got money. With all those boats and money that was collected, he has to have some money somewhere.”

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