State appeals extortion case against TC resort owner

Nov 29, 2016

Bryan Punturo [right] listens to Judge Thomas Phillips during a hearing.
Credit Aaron Selbig

An extortion case against a Traverse City resort owner is headed back to court. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says Bryan Punturo used threats to convince a competitor to pay him $19,000 a year.

In their first court case, state prosecutors said Punturo threatened competing parasailing operator Saburi Boyer. Punturo said he would “crush” and “bury” Boyer if he wasn’t paid. But 86th District Court Judge Thomas Phillips said that while Punturo’s behavior was “reprehensible,” it wasn’t illegal.

The Attorney General’s office is now appealing that ruling to the 13th Circuit Court. Prosecutors are preparing briefs for a hearing in February. They did not respond to a request for comment.

Punturo’s attorney, Jonathan Moothart, says he plans to “continue to defend the case vigorously.”

If he’s convicted, Punturo would face 20 years in prison.