ST. PETERSBURG — The owner of a boat and yacht brokerage company and another man were arrested on grand theft charges after authorities said they sold stolen boats overseas, Pinellas sheriff's deputies said.
Mark A. Conner, 38, of Treasure Island was arrested Thursday on charges of scheme to defraud and four counts of grand theft. He was being held on $40,000 bail Friday at the Pinellas County Jail. Lawrence P. Plumstead, 44, of Seminole was arrested on three counts of grand theft. Plumstead was released Friday morning after posting $15,000 bond.
The investigation began in August after deputies received a complaint that Conner, owner of Suncoast Marine at 8290 Bay Pines Blvd., stiffed customers on the sale of three boats. Deputies said Conner accepted the boats on consignment, with the agreement that he would take a commission on sales. However, he never paid the owners or the lending company.
They began surveilling Conner, and saw him and Plumstead shrink-wrapping a stolen Scout model boat for shipment to Australia at a Pinellas Park storage lot, authorities said.
The men were arrested Thursday as they were taking the boat out of the lot.
Deputies operating under a search warrant then found four more stolen boats and trailers at the lot. The vessels, all between 21 and 25 feet, were a Boston Whaler, a Pro Line center console, a Century center console and a Century walk-around, deputies said.
Deputies said Conner was observed stealing the Century walk-around on a home surveillance camera in Hillsborough County.