Second Search Warrant Reveals New Details In Raid Of Party Yacht Jess Conn In Nantucket Harbor

Jason Graziadei •

Jess Conn
A Coast Guard patrol boat is seen here tied to the motor yacht Jess Conn in Nantucket Harbor Tuesday morning as authorities investigate. Photo by Kit Noble

More details about the raid of the 80-foot motor yacht Jess Conn in Nantucket Harbor earlier this month have been revealed in a second search warrant affidavit filed by a Nantucket Police Department detective and obtained by the Current.

The 12-page document includes new information from the man who originally called authorities about the yacht from Texas, as well as two FedEx packages found aboard the Jess Conn that had been shipped to Nantucket overnight from Miami, Fla., and may have contained narcotics.

The raid of the Jess Conn on Sept. 5 resulted in the arrest of its owner, retired physician Scott Burke, 69, who is now facing a slew of drug and gun charges.

The first search warrant affidavit disclosed that the man from Texas called the police stating that he believed his friend had overdosed aboard the Jess Conn after seeing her pass out and having the Facetime call dropped. As reported last week, the man said his friend had told him “they were doing drugs all weekend long and people on the boat had been making pornographic films.” The new affidavit includes a previously undisclosed detail about what he saw on the Facetime call that ultimately led him to call the police.

“It should be of note when I had talked to (the man from Texas) later on around 11:15 a.m., (he) had told me that he saw Burke step over (the woman), end the call, and he suspected he turned the phone off as when he called it went straight to voicemail,” wrote Det. Amanda Schwenk in the search warrant affidavit.

Burke's attorney, Hank Brennan, previously told the Current that the man's statements to authorities were inconsistent and were motivated by his prior relationship with the woman who was evacuated from the Jess Conn.

"He’s a bitter ex-boyfriend who was upset she wouldn’t come see him and I wouldn’t put much stock in anything he has to say," Brennan said. "His accounts are inconsistent."

In addition to the drugs, firearms, and ammunition discovered aboard the Jess Conn, investigators also discovered two FedEx packages addressed to Burke. The two “priority overnight brown envelopes” originated in Miami, Florida and were a focus of the second search warrant affidavit. The packages were seized by authorities and transferred to the DEA Task Force for testing. A narcotic detection K-9 named Oakley indicated the presence of a lingering narcotic odor from those packages seized from the Jess Conn.

According to the affidavit, the packages had been sent from Miami to a residence on Nantucket on Aurora Way, and addressed to Scott Burke. They had been sent from an address in Miami-Dade County that “is within the Florida high intensity drug trafficking area,” according to the affidavit, and both weighed .5 pounds.

Beyond the police seizure of a Dell laptop, a Motorola cell phone, and two Apple iPads from the Jess Conn - all disclosed in the first search warrant affidavit - the new affidavit shows that authorities also received permission to seize the yacht’s video surveillance system, including memory cards, hard drives, and other electronic storage devices. All of those items will undergo a forensic examination by law enforcement officials.

“I believe that the surveillance system located on the 2021 80-foot Nordhavn named Jess Conn anchored in the Nantucket Harbor may contain exculpatory or inculpatory evidence of the crimes listed and described above,” Det. Schwenk wrote. “It may also contain assistance locating witnesses and corroborating evidence based on witness statements.”

Schwenk’s affidavit also mentions a second woman who had been on the boat in the days leading up to the police raid but left the yacht the day before due to an interaction with Burke.

That woman “stated that the day before, Sept. 4, 2023, Burke was not speaking to her appropriately, swearing and being rude, so she asked Burke to being (sp) her to town,” Schwenk wrote in the affidavit. This other woman “stated that she ended up shopping, site seeing and staying off for the evening. (She) was unable to provide me where she stayed. (She) denied being on the boat during that evening and the early morning hours of September 5, 2023, leading up to NPD arrival.”

While Burke had denied any knowledge of the illegal narcotics discovered by authorities on the yacht - and his attorney stated that he does not use or sell drugs - the new search warrant affidavit claims that among the items seized by police was a "debit Bank of America card located on the top of the right side bedside table in the bedroom with the name ‘Scott A. Burke’ on it. This debit card had rough edges and had pink powder residue consistent with the same pink powder confirmed to be Ketamine.”

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

The raid of the Jess Conn and the arrest of Burke made national headlines over the past month after the Current broke the story on the night of Sept. 5th.

During Burke's detention hearing earlier this month, it was revealed the former physician is suffering from terminal cancer. “To have this man potentially spend the rest of his life waiting for a case in jail, to me, would be very, very tragic,” said Burke's attorney Henry Brennan as he requested that the judge not hold his client in custody for pretrial detention.

According to police reports and his defense attorney, Burke was partying with friends aboard the vessel in Nantucket Harbor before the raid.

But on the morning of Sept. 5th, Nantucket police, EMTs, and Harbormaster personnel responded to the yacht for a "wellness check" after receiving 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. The woman was taken off the yacht to an ambulance at the town pier that transported her to Nantucket Cottage Hospital. Her current condition is unknown.

Investigators, including a DEA special agent, subsequently boarded and searched the Jess Conn, 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.

Burke is facing charges of possession of a firearm without an FID card (two counts), possession of ammunition without an FID (two counts), possession of a Class B substance (cocaine), trafficking a Class B substance over 36 grams but less than 100 grams (cocaine; approximately 43.4 grams), possession with the intent to distribute a Class A substance (ketamine; approximately 14.1 grams), possession of a firearm without an FID, and possession of a large capacity feeding device (four counts).

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