Business

Judge orders ex-Boise boat maker to repay customers, eventually

Chris Bohnenkamp, right, stands with former Niagara Jet Adventures co-owner Mike Fox at the marina in Youngstown, N.Y.
Chris Bohnenkamp, right, stands with former Niagara Jet Adventures co-owner Mike Fox at the marina in Youngstown, N.Y. Youngstown Gazette

A judge has approved a settlement between Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and a former Boise jet boat builder who failed to complete purchased boats.

Christopher Bohnenkamp owned the custom jet boat building business, Bohnenkamp’s Whitewater Customs, as well as Treasure Valley Marine, the sales arm of the business. Both were located at the intersection of Morris Hill and Curtis roads.

Under the settlement, Bohnenkamp must pay $414,868, including more than $372,368 to eight customers who filed complaints with Wasden’s Office. But the settlement payments are suspended until he has the means to pay, Wasden’s office said.

The settlement also bars Bohnenkamp from operating a boat-related business in Idaho. Bohnenkamp left the state to start Niagara Jet Adventures, a jet boat tour business near Niagara Falls based in Youngstown, N.Y.

The office received complaints from 14 customers last year.

In June, an Idaho judge ruled in favor of three customers who had sued and ordered Bohnenkamp to pay them more than $200,000. Bohnenkamp also faces several other lawsuits from customers saying they paid hundreds of thousands for custom jet boats and trailers that were never completed, and from two banks. And Michael Fox, Bohnenkamp’s partner in the venture, sued, saying Bohnenkamp defrauded him of his share of ownership. These lawsuits are unaffected by the settlement.

The FBI also investigated customer complaints. No criminal charges have been filed.

Fourth District Judge Michael Reardon approved the settlement with Wasden’s office.

The case won by the three customers included an affidavit from Joe Stearns, who worked as the controller of Bohnenkamp’s businesses for one year in 2013 and 2014 when Bohnenkamp was fielding customer orders that went unfilled.

Stearns provided new details about how Bohnenkamp shifted money between business accounts. He said Bohnenkamp spent between $300,000 and $400,000 for personal use during Stearns’ tenure. Among other things, Bohnenkamp made four $10,000 withdrawals during a family vacation to Las Vegas in June 2014, the affidavit said.

Stearns also said Bohnenkamp built the jet boats for Niagara Jet Adventure during the period when he was not completing prepaid customer orders for jet boats at his Boise business.

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