(WSVN) - He sold his boat. Next thing he knew, that boat was used for smuggling migrants and crashed ashore on President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property. He was facing charges, so he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
If you have to pick one thing that makes South Florida great, it might be the water and being on the water.
Rembrandt Silva, not his boat: “I have owned boats ever since I was in my early 20s. Love fishing. I love to be on the water.”
Rembrandt’s last boat was a nice 32-footer named Summer Smart, and like that old line, Rembrandt was happy the day he bought it and the day he sold it.
Rembrandt Silva: “I wanted to get rid of it because I was paying for the slip every month, and I wasn’t really using the boat.”
Rembrandt advertised it on Craigslist, and a fellow gave him $16,000 cash.
Rembrandt Silva: “He said he was buying the boat for a partner of his, so he said the guy lives in the Bahamas.”
Rembrandt never met the buyer, doesn’t have a bill of sale and forgot about the vessel until he was on vacation in Costa Rica and saw video of his old boat being stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard for smuggling migrants.
Rembrandt Silva: “They got 32 Haitians, migrants inside the boat, and I’m like, ‘What?'”
The Coast Guard took the people and left the boat adrift near the Bahamas.
Guess where it came ashore…
Rembrandt Silva: “So the boat, out of all the places, it landed right on Donald Trump’s property.”
That’s right — at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s estate. But Rembrandt wasn’t worried — until the people with guns and badges came to visit.
Rembrandt Silva: “We’ve got your boat here. It’s in Donald Trump’s property. You gotta get it outta here.”
Rembrandt said, “Sorry, it’s not my boat anymore.”
Rembrandt Silva: “I sold that boat. I sold it months back. He said, ‘Well, the boat is still under your name. You have to come down here and get it out of here.”
Now Rembrandt was officially worried…
Rembrandt Silva: “Especially when I heard migrants, smuggling and Donald Trump all put together. I am like, ‘What?'”
Instead of quickly moving the boat, the people in Palm Beach County let it sit there.
The waves tore it apart, and the price to remove the wreckage kept going up.
Rembrandt Silva: “They told me it was gonna be about $16,000. Right now, I don’t have that type of money, so they gave me a court date.”
The boat he was happy to sell, that wound up being used for smuggling, that smashed ashore on the president’s property, now has left Rembrandt charged with abandoning a vessel.
Rembrandt Silva: “You can get like six months to leave a boat abandoned. They can give you fines or jail time.”
Not what Rembrandt expected when he was happy to get rid of that 32-footer.
Rembrandt Silva: “I wanna clear my name, first of all…”
Well Howard, you are a criminal lawyer. How would you clear Rembrandt’s name?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “This is not a hard case to defend. Rembrandt can testify he sold the boat. He can bring in witnesses to testify he sold it, and that is what the law calls reasonable doubt, which means a judge will either dismiss the case or a jury will find him not guilty if it gets to trial, which I doubt it ever will.”
We contacted the public defender in Palm Beach County who is representing Rembrandt. He wouldn’t talk to us.
No one on the boat was charged with smuggling. Whoever the smuggler was got away with it.
Rembrandt Silva: “Can’t believe how beautiful that boat was.”
Was beautiful. Now, it’s a headache for Rembrandt as he heads to court to try to prove he is not guilty of abandoning a vessel.
Although, Rembrandt says he is guilty of one thing…
Rembrandt Silva: “I am guilty of being naive and not thinking something like this could happen.”
We will keep an eye on Rembrandt to see what happens with his case, and to avoid this happening to you when you sell a boat or a car, to protect yourself go with the buyer to transfer the title. If you don’t want to do that, save a copy of the bill of sale and file a notice of sale with the division of motor vehicles.
Since I doubt you have that form in your drawer, the link to print a copy is down below. Otherwise, who knows what sort of headaches you could face? Just ask Rembrandt.
Feeling abandoned with a problem that’s left you a wreck? Feeling sunk about it? Stay afloat by contacting us. Hopefully, you can set sail with the solution in hand.
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