• Armed Florida charter boat captain got drunk, held passengers hostage, police say

    By: Bob D'Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    SARASOTA, Fla. - A 12-hour fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico turned scary Sunday when a Florida charter captain, allegedly drunk and high, became angry and threatened to shoot passengers on his boat about 60 miles offshore, authorities said.

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    Mark Alexander Bailey, 36, of Sarasota, was charged with boating under the influence and resisting arrest, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

    Sarasota police and U.S. Coast Guard officials responded shortly after midnight Sunday after receiving calls from passengers on a Double Nickel Charter boat who said Bailey was intoxicated, had fired shots from a handgun and was refusing to return them to shore, even after they had paid them, WWSB reported.

    "It was like a movie, unbelievable," passenger Christopher Giuffre Jr., 23, who was on board with his father, told WTSP.

    Giuffre told the television station Bailey ripped a chain off the neck of another passenger, Jason “Junior” Rialmo, 15, for trying to grab a beer for his uncle.

    "I thought at first he was just playing," Rialmo told WTSP. "But then I realized he was serious and I was like, ‘I can’t do that.’”

    “Things just got very strange from that point on," Giuffre told WTVT. "(Bailey) verbally threatened our lives, that he was going to put a bullet in all of our heads and leave us out into the gulf and no one would find us.”

    Carlo Lopeparo, of Bradenton, said he paid $2,000 for the 12-hour fishing trip for his friends and family, the Herald-Tribune reported. The trouble began after the group had caught their limit of red snapper, the newspaper reported.

    According to an probable cause affidavit, Bailey’s first mate, Devin Kissell, told authorities he saw the charter captain drinking “an unknown number of beers” while driving the boat. 

    Lopepano told authorities he saw Bailey drinking “multiple beers” and “getting high from cocaine,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

    Christopher Giuffre Sr., 53, told authorities Bailey was using cocaine and drinking rum, according to the affidavit.

    From 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Bailey continued to drink rum and take drugs, according to the affidavit. Passengers told authorities the captain pretended to steer the boat toward shore, but they used a compass on a cellphone to confirm the boat was traveling in circles, the Herald-Tribune reported.

    “We had no control and no way to get back,” Giuffre Sr. told the newspaper. “I believe he didn’t want to dock completely wasted and was buying time.”

    Cellphone signals were intermittent on the water, but a member of the group was able to alert a family member, who called authorities, WTVT reported. Police met the boat when it finally docked.

    “I’d never been so happy to see a police officer,” Giuffre Jr. told the television station.

    Bailey, who refused to take a Breathalyzer test or field sobriety exercises, became angry when he was arrested and kicked the rear door of a police cruiser, WWSB reported.

    Bailey was taken to the Sarasota County Jail and was released after paying a $620 bond, the Herald-Tribune reported. He will appear in court June 24, according to the probable cause affidavit.


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