Florida Doctor Pleads Guilty To Drug, Gun Charges Stemming From Police Raid On Yacht

David Creed •

Jess Conn
A Coast Guard patrol boat is seen here tied to the motor yacht Jess Conn in Nantucket Harbor on Sept. 5, 2023 as authorities investigate. Photo by Kit Noble

Scott Burke, the owner of the infamous “Jess Conn” yacht that was raided by law enforcement in Nantucket Harbor in September of 2023, pleaded guilty to four charges in Nantucket District Court Tuesday morning.

Burke, 70, will avoid any jail time and serve one year of probation after pleading guilty to charges of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, possession of a Class A drug with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm without an FID card, and possessing ammunition without an FID card.

Four charges of possessing a large-capacity firearm, two charges of possessing a firearm without an FID card, one charge of possessing a Class A drug, and one charge of possessing ammunition without an FID card stemming from the same incident were dismissed.

Burke was arrested and charged on Sept. 5, 2023 following a raid of his 70-foot motor yacht anchored in Nantucket Harbor by Nantucket Police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after a woman was evacuated from the vessel, named the Jess Conn, and taken to an ambulance waiting at the town pier.

The initial response to the vessel was due to a "report of a female party, on board a yacht, who did not want to be there, was under the influence of narcotics, and possibly has overdosed," according to a police report.

Investigators, including a DEA special agent, boarded and searched the Jess Conn at 3:25 p.m., according to court documents obtained by the Current. They confiscated 43.4 grams of cocaine, 14.1 grams of ketamine, and two pistols - a .380 Smith Wesson Shield and a 9mm Smith & Wesson - along with various ammunition. 

scott burke
Scott Anthony Burke in Plymouth District Court on Thursday. Pat Greenhouse / Boston Globe

According to the affidavit in support of the search warrant police obtained to raid the yacht, the woman who was later removed from the vessel by authorities and taken to the hospital had been Facetiming with a male friend the night before. The friend was the one who initially alerted authorities to the situation aboard the yacht early on the morning of Sept. 5, 2023. He told police he believed his friend had overdosed because the woman told him she wanted to get off the boat, passed out, and that the call had dropped.

The woman allegedly had told him that “they were doing drugs all weekend long and people on the boat had been making pornographic films" which the man then relayed to police.

Burke is a retired physician who practiced in Colorado and founded Denver Spine and Rehab. He was most recently the CEO of Injury Finance, LLC, which provides medical lien services for third-party liability claims.

During a previous court appearance, Burke's attorney revealed that Burke is suffering from stage four, terminal cancer, and that he likely does not have long to live. He argued at the time that given Burke's lack of a criminal record and his current medical condition, the court should opt against holding him in custody on pretrial detention.

Burke's attorney, Henry Brennan, revealed during a dangerousness hearing on Sept. 7, 2023 that Brennan that Burke is suffering from stage four, terminal cancer, and that he likely does not have long to live.

You can read the Current’s initial story on Burke and the yacht raid here.

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