Ormond Beach, Fla. resident paying Coast Guard full restitution for the misuse of flares

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Clearwater, Fla. — An Ormond Beach, Florida, resident is paying the Coast Guard full restitution for the misuse of flares from a February 2014 incident in St. Petersburg, Florida.

On Nov. 30, Sean C. Moran made his first payment toward the $12,752.35 that he must reimburse the Coast Guard for the cost of responding to his false distress signal.

Moran agreed to pay the restitution as well as abstain from alcohol use, write an apology letter to the Coast Guard, complete 70 hours of community service and attend a boating safety course. These conditions were part of a pretrial diversion agreement made between Moran and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, in cooperation with the Coast Guard, in October 2014. If Moran does not fulfill the terms of the agreement within a period of 18 months, the U.S. Attorney’s Office may initiate prosecution for the offense.

Individuals who make false distress calls may be fined up to $250,000 and serve up to six years in prison.

“Shooting a flare in a non-distress situation is no different than dialing 911 and hanging up. Flares alert the Coast Guard, first responders, and other mariners of a distress situation on the water,” said Lt. Holly Deal, deputy chief of response at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “It’s a call for help. Every time a flare is fired and reported we respond, so we are asking the public to only use flares when there is an actual distress situation. This avoids unnecessary searches and ensures people in real distress get the help they need as quickly as possible.”

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