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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Keuka Maid verdict upheld by justice

  • The jury’s verdict ousting the tour boat The Keuka Maid will stand, according to a recent decision by Town Justice Charles William Hewson.

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  • The jury’s verdict ousting the tour boat The Keuka Maid will stand, according to a recent decision by Town Justice Charles William Hewson.
    But that doesn’t mean the town expects to take ownership soon, town Supervisor John Webster said last week.
    “Well, first there’s the 30 days to appeal,” Webster said. “And then there’s the foreclosures, possible bankruptcy. So who knows?”
    Once a popular tourist attraction, the Keuka Maid has been the subject of numerous lawsuits and countersuits filed by boat owner Robert Pfuntner and towns in Steuben and Yates counties. The trouble began in the fall of 2006, when the three-story boat was ordered to stay in port because it did not meet federal safety standards.
    Efforts to inspect the boat failed, prompting disputes between Pfuntner and the Town of Urbana, and the Town of Milo, located at the north end of the lake in Yates County.
    Unable to get permits to move the boat to property he owns in Milo, Pfuntner then ordered the boat to leave port in Hammondsport allegedly intending to run it aground near the Yates property.
    Instead the boat got stuck on a sandbar, too far from shore, and the Yates County Sheriff ordered the Keuka Maid back to Hammondsport.
    That excursion is what allowed the six-person jury to declare in late July the boat is a squatter, Webster said.
    (Pfuntner) took it out, never intending to return,” Webster said.
    However, another wrinkle has been introduced since the jury’s unanimous decision.
    In early August – while the verdict was under review – foreclosure notices were filed by ACM Browncroft LLC and Chemung County, looks to recover more than $1.8 million in unpaid loans from Pfuntner. The properties listed include the tour boat and several local radio stations.
    “And what that means I don’t have the faintest idea,” Webster said. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

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