The Michigan Attorney General’s office has accused a Traverse City resort owner of extortion.
Attorney General Bill Schuette says 58-year-old Bryan Punturo, owner of the ParkShore resort, threatened the owners of a competing parasailing business on Grand Traverse Bay. Puntoro allegedly convinced the victim to pay him in exchange for not forcing the victim out of business.
Attorney Brace Kern represents the alleged victim – Saburi Boyer – in an ongoing civil case.
“Essentially, what he did was tell my client, ‘Give me $19,000 a year or I’m going to run you out of business with unfair competition … below cost prices,’” says Kern.
Kern says Punturo threatened in telephone messages to "make your life a living hell.”
He says the contract started in May 2014 and continued until last summer, when his client was diagnosed with cancer and could no longer make payments to Punturo. Boyer is seeking restitution and damages in the amount of $760,000.
Kern says he tipped off the Attorney General’s office about the alleged extortion plot.
"Extortion is illegal, plain and simple," Schuette said, in a press release. "The actions allegedly taken here were a threat to another person's livelihood and are not a good business practice."
If convicted, Punturo could face 20 years in prison. His bail was set Tuesday at $100,000.