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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Captured ship and a ransom demand or something else?

Boston Hereald report:
An East Boston man believed to have escaped a hijacking by gun-wielding Haitian pirates is at the center of a mystery as he phones home from parts unknown, seeking cash for the return of a missing million-dollar cargo ship.
The calls from Frank Bottino, a 60-year-old investor in the Florida Star, have left his business partners stunned and frustrated as they scramble to recover the $1.3 million vessel.
Bottino’s whereabouts are unknown. His last call - requesting $100,000 to get back the boat - came about two months ago.
Lisa McSweeney, who invested hundreds of thousands in the boat with her husband, John, said they’ve exhausted their resources trying to find the ship.
***
The saga of the Florida Star began in July 2004 when the 247-foot ship was boarded by armed rebels at a port in Miraguane, Haiti. The swashbuckling thugs shot the captain in the arm, assaulted crew members, stole cargo and took over the vessel, according to a report by the London-based International Maritime Organization.
Bottino, initially believed by his partners to be dead, never responded to letters or newspaper ads.
***
In February 2005, Bottino called other investors seeking money to retrieve the vessel, according to Robert Fedus, a Weymouth contractor and part-owner of the Florida Star.
“He asked us to send him down $70,000 for the boat to get it back,” Fedus said in a recent court proceeding. “We believed all along the boat was on its way back and that it would be recovered.”
Bottino’s most recent known contact came about two months ago when he called another investor, Ronald Camarda.... Bottino told Camarda he was in the Dominican Republic and needed $100,000 to get the boat out of French Guyana...
I love a mystery.

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