WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - Bob Williams calls it "modern-day piracy."
A few months ago, an anonymous donor gave a large expensive boat to Support the Troops, a charity Williams runs that takes donations and sends them to troops serving overseas.
Williams made plans to use the boat, being stored on the east coast of Florida, to generate money for his charity. The charity houses thousands of boxes at its warehouse in Wesley Chapel, waiting to be sent overseas. However, the charity struggles to generate enough money to pay for postage.
Williams tried to take the boat from the east coast of Florida to Tampa so it could be prepared for its business usage. It broke down, though, during its trip.
Desperate, Williams and his crew pulled the boat into Beyel Brothers Marine in Port Canaveral.
Williams said he made a handshake deal with the owners of Beyel Brothers to dock the boat there while it was fixed.
“It’s a handshake deal. We’ll take care of your ship. It’s out of the way, no problem. No talk of money, no signing something, no contract, no nothing,” Williams said.
Williams and his crew tried to get the ship back on the water, but kept running into problems satisfying Coast Guard requirements.
Eventually, Williams made the decision to scrap the ship. He had a deal in place that would still net the charity $100,000 from the scrapping of the ship. That money would go toward postage.
The plan fell apart, though, when an invoice arrived from Beyel Brothers, billing the charity $53,000 for docking the ship.
“I was blown away,” Williams said, under the impression there was a deal to keep the ship at the dock at no cost.
According to Frank Butler, attorney for Beyel Brothers, that was not the case though. He said the original handshake deal was for docking the boat for two days at a reduced cost, and then full-price docking after that.
He said there was never a deal for free docking with Support The Troops.
Williams said he does not have the money to fight this battle legally, so he will likely have to give the ship up to Beyel Brothers.
Butler said they rejected a deal where the first $50,000 from the scrapping of the ship would go to Beyel Brothers, with the next $50,000 going to the charity. Butler said they needed the money up front to surrender the ship.
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