DOJ hits AeroVanti Founder Patrick Britton-Harr with False Claims Act lawsuit

The Justice Department alleges the founder of private jet membership club AeroVanti defrauded Medicare by submitting fake claims from laboratories he owned.

By Doug Gollan, July 18, 2023

The five lawsuits filed since May against Patrick Britton-Harr and his private jet company AeroVanti may be the least of his problems.

Earlier today, the Department of Justice filed a complaint against Britton-Harr (pictured with his father) and the multiple laboratory companies he owns.  

The action alleges False Claims Act violations for submitting claims to Medicare for laboratory tests that were not ordered by health care providers, not medically necessary, and sometimes never performed.   

According to the complaint, Britton-Harr owned and operated Provista Health LLC and multiple other corporate entities.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers partners
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued to promote AeroVanti as a corporate partner more than a week after its website went offline and despite multiple lawsuits. Officials did not return multiple requests for comment. AeroVanti also signed sponsorships with the Chicago Cubs and US Sailing.

It says he allegedly profited from the Covid-19 pandemic “by offering tests to nursing homes as a way to bill Medicare for a wide array of medically unnecessary respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) tests.”  

The complaint alleges that the RPP tests were not medically necessary because the beneficiaries had no symptoms of a respiratory illness and because the tests were for uncommon respiratory pathogens.  

Tests were never ordered

It further claims that Britton-Harr and Provista Health submitted claims for RPP tests that physicians never ordered.  

“Multiple physicians denied ever ordering the thousands of RPP tests for which Britton-Harr and Provista Health allegedly submitted claims to Medicare listing one of these physicians as the ordering provider,” according to a press release from the DOJ.  

Over 300 claims stated that the nasal swab test sample was supposedly collected from the beneficiary on a date after the beneficiary had died

– DOJ complaint against AeroVanti Founder and CEO Patrick Britton-Harr

Over 300 claims stated that the nasal swab test sample was supposedly collected from the beneficiary on a date after the beneficiary had died, the Justice Department says.  

Britton-Harr, it states, owned and operated Provista Health, AMS Onsite Inc., Britton-Harr Enterprises Inc., Coastal Laboratories Inc., and Coastal Management Group Inc.  

“The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable individuals and entities who exploited the Covid-19 pandemic for their own illicit purposes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, Head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  

“The complaint alleges that these individuals and their companies took advantage of a national health crisis to line their own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland.  

“Patrick Britton-Harr and his co-conspirators took advantage of vulnerable adults during the public health emergency,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI Baltimore Field Office.  

He added, “The FBI and its partners will continue to aggressively investigate those who try to exploit the American people and swindle funds for their own profit.”  

Over $15 million lost by AeroVanti members

In the other lawsuits, Britton-Harr is accused of bilking members of AeroVanti of more than $15 million in payments that were supposed to be used to buy airplanes.  

The lawsuits allege funds were diverted to sponsorships with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Cubs, U.S. Sailing, and others.

Plaintiffs believe Britton-Harr spent their money buying yachts.

Airplanes that were supposed to be purchased and upgraded were repossessed for non-payment.

What members didn’t get was promised private flights.

They say, for the most part, they never received their promised $1,500 per hour cheap private flights.  

While AeroVanti claimed to have more than a dozen airplanes, it’s suggested that only a couple were operational at any one time, even though there were as many as 400 members.

READ: Caveat Emptor: Lessons from private jet scams, bankruptcies, and closures

AeroVanti denies our reports

Employees of AeroVanti also said they hadn’t been paid since the beginning of June.  

It was exclusively reported by Private Jet Card Comparisons first based on an internal email we received and reviewed.  

On June 6, with the subject line “Paychecks,” in which Britton-Harr was copied, Vice President, Operations Joey Giordano, wrote, “The company is not closing or going out of business, but due to repercussions of recent events, is awaiting some capital in order to get back on track and continue on a path of success. The capital is expected to come in two weeks or so.”  

He continued, “[W]e understand that you have other obligations that need immediate attention financially, and you must do what is right for you and your family. There are no hard feelings if you decide that AeroVanti isn’t the right path for you. For those that stay, there could be very green valley’s ahead to enjoy! You may also decide that you will not work until you get a paycheck. We understand. You may decide to simply work from home until you get a paycheck.”  

Still, the AeroVanti founder told other media these claims were “totally false.”  

We reported as well that the entire AeroVanti fleet was grounded last month based on multiple sources, including a company consultant, again, a claim Britton-Harr denied.  

Additionally, a press release from AeroVanti last year that it secured $100 million in financing also appears to be false based on multiple sources.

READ: House of Jet Cards: Evaluating the risks and rewards of a multi-billion-dollar private jet charter product

A new CEO for AeroVanti?

Most recently, a press release that AeroVanti had appointed a new CEO, Scott Hopes, has proven to be premature at best.  

As of late last week, Hopes had still not assumed the CEO role despite a June 22 press release announcing his appointment.

The AeroVanti website also remains offline.

Still, the Buccaneers continue to promote the private jet company as a corporate partner.

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