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Court hearing postponed for retired doctor arrested on yacht in Nantucket

A Coast Guard patrol boat was tied to the yacht Jess Conn, owned by Scott Anthony Burke, in Nantucket Harbor in September as authorities investigated.Kit Noble/ Nantucket Current

A court hearing was postponed on Monday for a retired Florida doctor who was arrested on Nantucket in September after authorities allegedly found drugs, guns, and a distressed woman on his boat, records show.

The pretrial hearing for Scott Anthony Burke, 69, of Key Largo, Fla., was rescheduled for April 8.

Burke faces eight drug and weapons-related counts and has pleaded not guilty. A request for comment was sent to his attorney Monday morning.

On Sept. 5 at 7:45 a.m., a Dallas man called Nantucket police and said he thought his friend, a 33-year-old woman, had overdosed on Burke’s boat, named the Jess Conn, according to a police affidavit. The man told police he had been speaking with her all night on FaceTime and that she “mentioned wanting to get off the boat” before she passed out and the call dropped, the court filing said.

The woman indicated “they were doing drugs all weekend long and people on the boat had been making pornographic films,” the man told police, adding that she listed the drugs as “ketamine, Adderall, ecstasy, and cocaine.”

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After receiving the 911 call, authorities boarded the vessel and arrested Burke. When emergency responders found the woman, she was lying on a bed, “awake but extremely lethargic,” police said. She said she didn’t feel safe and was “afraid to be on the boat.”

Firefighters led her off the yacht and she was taken to Nantucket Cottage Hospital.

In the bedroom, police saw a gun on a bookshelf and a plastic bag of cocaine on the night stand. Police also saw two clear packages containing “multiple blue pills,” according to the affidavit.

Initially, Burke was “extremely uncooperative” when police tried to speak with him, the affidavit said.

“Due to his behavior and being uncooperative, Scott was detained and placed into handcuffs,” the filing said. He agreed to speak with officers after being read his Miranda rights, police said.

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Burke said he owned the boat and that the bedroom was his. He told police he had a gun license in Florida, but authorities determined it had expired last year, according to the affidavit.

“Scott also indicated that there was a second firearm in the area,” police said.

At the police station, he told investigators the woman “was an employee of the boat” who was hired three to four weeks earlier, the affidavit said. He said a second woman had been staying on the vessel and that she had been drinking and taking Adderall.

“Burke also denied any knowledge of any illegal narcotics on the yacht,” police said.

Police said they called the second woman, who said she had left “some medications” on the vessel, including Adderall that a doctor had prescribed.

After receiving a search warrant, investigators seized a number of items from the yacht, including more than 43 grams of cocaine and 14 grams of ketamine, $2,300 in cash, two guns and ammunition, and a pair of priority overnight FedEx envelopes, according to court papers.

At a court hearing in September, Burke’s attorney Hank Brennan described the woman on the boat as a friend of the ship’s captain who had been hired to work as a server on the yacht. Burke had more than a dozen guests on board in the week before his arrest, including guests who were invited by crew members, Brennan said.

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When members of the crew left the yacht to attend a wedding, the woman asked if she could stay on board for a couple days until they returned, Brennan said in an interview after the hearing.

Burke agreed she could stay and a “disgruntled ex-boyfriend,” upset she had stayed on the vessel, called police so they would search the yacht, Brennan said.

“Now he is paying the price for being kind,” Brennan said of his client.

Brennan said Burke was not aware his gun license had expired, something he called an “administrative oversight.” He said Burke does not use or sell drugs.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report. This breaking news story will be updated when more information is released.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.